National Kidney Foundation Supports Legislation to Assist Living Organ Donors With Expenses

New York, NY (March 8, 2001) - The Organ Donation Improvement Act of 2001 (H.R. 624), passed yesterday by the House of Representatives, would alleviate some of the financial burden on organ donors, a factor identified in a National Kidney Foundation (NKF) study as a key barrier to increasing living donation.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), authorizes the secretary of health and human services to award grants or contracts to states, transplant centers and qualified organ procurement organizations to help cover expenses incurred by individuals donating organs. The grants or contracts would pay for travel and subsistence costs and certain incidental expenses incurred by donors. The bill would also help states raise awareness about organ donation by awarding grants to carry out public education and outreach activities.

In an NKF survey of living-related kidney donors, nearly one-fourth of the respondents reported a moderate or significant burden associated with unreimbursed expenses, such as transportation and lodging expenses, for pre-transplant tests. In some cases, these expenses can cost donors as much as several thousand dollars. In another NKF study, one out of every four family members surveyed said that financial considerations prevented them from volunteering to be a living donor.

"We are pleased to support this legislation and are confident that it will allow and encourage more people to become living donors," said Fred Herbert, chairman of the National Kidney Foundation. "Removing the financial burden on living donors and raising awareness about organ donation are two major steps toward ensuring every person in this country that needs a transplant receives one."

In 1999, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, 36 percent of kidney transplants performed in the United States were from living donors. With more than 74,000 patients currently on the waiting list, the need for donor organs continues to exceed the supply.

The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.

For more information, call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.