Skip to main content
Home » Transplants » How the Transplant Community Can Protect Its Donors

How the Transplant Community Can Protect Its Donors

Dianne B. McKay, M.D.

President, American Society of Transplantation

We occasionally hear uplifting stories about how a life was saved through organ donation. Nearly 35,000 people received an organ transplant in 2017. However, advocating for donor registration is just the beginning.

Advocating for the issues that impact the transplant community is essential. Current legislation includes the Dialysis PATIENTS Demonstration Act, which could allow large-dialysis organizations to control patient choice and kidney transplant referrals and the Living Donor Protection Act, which removes potential disincentives to living donation. 

Protecting donors

Living donation is the optimal way for a transplant candidate to receive a kidney. The Living Donor Protection Act aims to protect those who donate an organ by eliminating potential disincentives — such as insurance coverage — and by offering job protection to living donors.

Living donors are required to go through a thorough medical examination to ensure they are healthy enough to donate. Despite their proven health, living donors sometimes experience increased costs for health and life insurance coverages. The Living Donor Protection Act addresses this and provides job protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Looking forward

One of the most important issues that could impact those with kidney disease is the Dialysis PATIENTS Demonstration Act. If enacted, this bill would give large-dialysis organizations complete control to be the central point of care for those with end-stage kidney failure, including access to organ transplantation. This would allow patients to access all their physicians and resources through the dialysis center, but when a patient leaves dialysis to receive a transplant, it creates a financial disincentive for dialysis centers to refer patients to transplantation. This legislation could remove patient choice and access to transplantation, even when transplantation is the best option for the patient and is less expensive over time than dialysis for insurance providers and the government.

Why we advocate

The transplant community remains committed to advocating for issues that impact those touched by transplantation. In October 2018, the American Society of Transplantation brought several kidney-transplant recipients to Capitol Hill to educate key legislators about the true impact of these bills.

The transplant community is focused on preserving patient choice and access to transplantation and eliminating disincentives for living organ donors.

Next article