On February 14, 2019 four members of the House of Representatives and the Senate stood up in Congress and spoke out in an effort to protect living donors and to help save the lives of thousands of Americans in need of an organ donation. If you have been paying attention to politics recently, you know that bipartisan support of any issue is a true rarity in the current political environment. Organ donation has an amazing power in people’s lives. It can bring complete opposites together to celebrate the selfless act of giving life and love. On February 14, two Democrats and two Republicans put aside their political differences and came together in Congress to help protect living organ donors; a group of our population who truly know what it means to live selflessly.

What Is Proposed

Some of the biggest fears of becoming a living donor are the costs associated with it, both medically and with insurance after the fact. As horrible as it may sound, in the past, insurance companies have discriminated against living donors, raising their rates and even denying them coverage. According to a 2014 study in the American Journal of Transportation, 27% of living organ donors had trouble paying for or securing insurance after their donation due to discriminatory practices by insurance companies. These people who gave selflessly were suddenly put in the horrible position of having to fight tooth and nail just to secure and pay for their insurance. This simply could not stand.

The Living Donor Protection Act serves to protect the rights of living donors and to actively abolish the discriminatory behavior of insurance companies. The bill proposes three main benefits to living donors:

-The Living Donor Protection Act prohibits insurance companies from limiting coverage, denying, and charging higher premiums to living organ donors.

-The act serves as an amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to include living organ donation as a serious health condition for all civil and private employees.

– This act also requires that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services update the information on living organ donation to highlight these new protections and to help encourage potential organ donors.

How this Benefits Kidney Recipients

The reality is that there are still hurdles that inhibit the general population from registering as living donors. Everything from a fear of surgery to the very real fear of potential financial repercussions has historically stopped people from registering as an organ donor.  Dixon B. Kaufman, MD, PhD, the president of the American Society of Transplant Surgery stated, “Removing barriers to living donation is a critical part of expanding access to life-saving transplants for those suffering from end-stage organ disease. The legislation targets two important impediments to organ donation: employment security and insurance coverage.”

As a group, living donors truly deserve every protection that we can possibly offer them. Not only have these people given a piece of themselves in an effort to preserve a family member’s, a friend’s, or a complete stranger’s life, but they have done so completely selflessly. The Living Donor Protection Act is an inspiring piece of legislation that is immensely important to the growth and preservation of living donors. Once again, organ donation has helped bring people together in an effort to help save lives and make the most of tragic situations. If you would like to learn more about what you can do, or if you would like to register as an organ and tissue donor today, visit the LifeCenter website today.