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!


About the Author

Terri Thede

Terri Thede is a living kidney donor and a member of AKF’s Advocacy Network. She lives in Normal, Illinois.