A man and a woman wearing hospital gowns hold hands while floating above a signed Congressional bill.

Living Donor Protection

Last updated: April 2023

Living organ donors make it possible for those who need an organ transplant to receive the gift of life. In 2020, one-third of all kidney transplants were made possible by living donors. But potential donors’ generosity is often met with barriers that may discourage them from becoming a living organ donor.1

There are currently more than 104,000 people on the transplant waiting list. Many of them need living organ donors to save their lives. This is why protecting people who choose to become a living donor is essential. The Living Donor Protection Act would help make that possible.1-3

What is the Living Donor Protection Act?

The Living Donor Protection Act (LDPA) is a bill that aims to provide certain protections to people who want to donate an organ. Right now, there are major barriers to becoming a living organ donor, such as:1,2

  • Lack of insurance coverage for the operation
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Threat of job loss due to taking time off for surgery and recovery

The LDPA is intended to break down these barriers to being a living donor. The bill states that insurance companies cannot deny or limit life, disability, and long-term care insurance based on a person’s status as a living organ donor. The bill also prohibits insurance companies from charging higher premiums to living donors.1,2

In addition, the bill states that living donors have the right to be protected from losing their job. And they have the right to use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take time off of work to recover from the procedure.1,2

Has the bill been signed into law?

The bill was first introduced to the United States Congress back in 2013 by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). It has been introduced several times since then. But it has still not been signed into law.1,2,4

Today, there is renewed interest in living donor protection. Senator Kristen Gilibrand (D-NY) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) have reintroduced the bill in the 117th Congress. With growing awareness of the importance of living donation, the bill may finally pass Congress and get signed into law.2

Why living donation matters

Living donation saves lives and helps improve quality of life for transplant recipients. Living donation has many advantages over deceased donation (when an organ is transplanted from someone who has died). Advantages of living donation include:5

  • Faster functioning – An organ from a living donor tends to start working more quickly than an organ from a deceased donor. For example, a kidney from a living donor typically starts working as soon as it has been transplanted into the recipient. Because a kidney from a deceased donor may take longer to function, the recipient may need to be on dialysis until it begins working.
  • Better genetic match – Many living donors are family members of their recipients, which provides a closer genetic match. A closer genetic match can decrease the risk of organ rejection.
  • Less time on the transplant waiting list – Many people wait months and even years to receive a life-saving organ. More living donors means more opportunities to access needed organs, which helps speed up the waiting process for recipients.

How to get involved

Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the transplant waiting list. You can help those in need by advocating for the LDPA. Contact your state legislators about the importance of the Living Donor Protection Act.2,3

Visit the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation Advocacy Alert and make your voice heard. With your help, the LDPA could pass Congress and be signed into law.2

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