American Kidney Fund Commends Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Signing Protections for Living Organ Donors into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SB 704, sponsored by Sens. Terry O’Donnell and Jason Smalley, prevents discrimination by insurers against living donors

ROCKVILLE, Md. (April 12, 2019) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF), the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans living with kidney disease, applauds the passage of Oklahoma SB 704 into law with its signing by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The law could help increase the availability of organs for transplant from living donors.

AKF is grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Terry O’Donnell and Sen. Jason Smalley, and to all of Arkansas’ lawmakers who voted unanimously in support of living organ donation. SB 704 will prohibit life, disability and long-term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors.

Most transplanted organs are from deceased donors, but patients may also receive organs from living donors. Living donation offers an alternative for individuals awaiting transplantation from a deceased donor and increases the existing organ supply. Kidneys are the most common organ transplanted from living donors, followed by liver and lung.

More than 6,400 living-donor kidney transplants were performed last year in the United States, including 45 in Oklahoma. 

Prohibiting insurers from discriminating against living donors is sound public policy backed up by research which has shown that people who donate a kidney live just as long as similarly healthy people who have both kidneys. In fact, a person may only donate a kidney if he or she is in excellent health.

Nationwide, 114,000 Americans are on the waiting list for organ transplants, including about 97,000 who are waiting for a kidney. In Oklahoma, 540 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list.

“We applaud Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma legislature for adding Oklahoma to a growing list of states that have recognized the importance of removing barriers to living organ donation,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. “Encouraging living donation that could increase the supply of kidneys for Americans living with end-stage renal disease isn’t just a humanitarian gesture; it’s also smart fiscal policy.”

AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2018, AKF helped more than 1,000 people nationwide have transplants, including 17 in Oklahoma. AKF’s program helps post-transplant patients for their full insurance plan year, ensuring continuity of care.

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About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading independent nonprofit working on behalf of the 37 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling the nation’s low-income dialysis and transplant patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation’s charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its “top 10” list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar, and GuideStar, which has awarded AKF its Platinum Seal of Transparency.

For more information, please visit KidneyFund.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.