Supporting living donation legislation in Illinois
On Thursday, March 14—World Kidney Day—I was honored and excited to join a group of Illinois advocates—including 8 other AKF Ambassadors—to support kidney health and living donor legislation at the State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. As a living kidney donor, I am keenly aware of the need to protect a donor’s ability to keep their employment and obtain insurance. I am a non-directed donor who participated in a six-person chain in August 2017 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. Both my recipient and his wife, also a donor in the chain, attended this day of advocacy. Seeing him in good health and hearing how his life has changed due to receiving a kidney renews my commitment to advocating for other donors.
During my March 14 visit, I was able to visit Senator Jason Barickman and Representative Dan Brady. I shared information about a bill to prevent insurance discrimination against living donors and provide job-protected leave for donating an organ, and additional legislation offering a tax credit to employers who offer paid leave for organ donation. Both legislators were appreciative of the information and vowed to further research the bills. Since our visit, I learned that Senator Barickman has signed on as a cosponsor to the tax credit legislation.
In Illinois, more than 21,000 residents with end-stage renal disease depend on dialysis to stay alive. And in 2018, only 846 kidney transplants were performed in the state. The need for living donors is clear. I believe that these pieces of pending legislation, and others like them in other states, will make the donor process more realistic for individuals considering this opportunity. If you are a living kidney donor or the recipient of a kidney from a living donor, I encourage you to share your story. Hearing those stories changes people’s minds about how they can help…and those changed minds can lead to changed lives!