ROCKVILLE, Md. (May 5, 2021) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) commends New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Washington Governor Jay Inslee for signing into law important protections for living organ donors. The new laws prohibit life, disability and long-term care insurers from discriminating against living organ donors by declining or limiting coverage due to someone's status as an organ donor and from precluding a person from donating all or part of an organ as a condition of their policy.
AKF worked closely with New Jersey A3199/S2315 primary bill sponsor, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, to move the bill through the General Assembly, and with Washington SB 5003 sponsor, Sen. Karen Keiser, to move the bill through the State Legislature.
"We are grateful to Governors Murphy and Inslee for their signatures on these pieces of legislation and for taking the important step to remove barriers that can prevent New Jersey and Washington residents from considering becoming living organ donors," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "These laws will ensure that no New Jerseyan or Washingtonian who chooses to make the lifesaving gift of organ donation will be discriminated against because of that decision."
AKF is leading a nationwide effort to pass living donor protections at the state level, and since 2019, 15 states have signed these bills into law, including Kentucky and Pennsylvania within the past month. Earlier this year, AKF released its first annual State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card, which measures seven types of legislation states can enact to provide protections for living organ donors and encourage living donations. In the absence of federal legislation to protect living donors, there is an uneven patchwork of protections across the nation, with some states providing no protections at all.
New Jersey's bill is the first living donor protection legislation signed into law in the state, and it moves the state up from an F grade to a D on AKF's Report Card. Washington's bill is the second living donor protection legislation signed into law in the state, moving them up from a D grade to a C. The overall Report Card grade average for the United States is a D. While we applaud these efforts as important first steps, there is much more that needs to be done. At the federal level, AKF continues to advocate for the Living Donor Protection Act of 2021 (H.R.1255/S.377) which would ensure a uniform baseline of living donor protections nationwide.
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. Transplants from living donors generally have fewer complications than deceased-donor transplants and a longer survival of the donor organ.
There are more than 107,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list and nearly 93,000 of them, or 86%, are waiting for a kidney. More than 2,300 New Jerseyans, and more than 1,500 Washingtonians, are on the kidney transplant waiting list. Of the 23,644 kidney transplants performed in the U.S. in 2020, just 5,234 were made possible by living organ donors. In New Jersey, 148 of 513 kidney transplants were from living donors. In Washington, 76 of 440 kidney transplants were from living donors.
AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2020, AKF grants helped 1,615 people nationwide receive kidney transplants — 7% of all kidney transplants performed in the United States last year. AKF's program helps post-transplant patients for their full insurance plan year, ensuring continuity of care.
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.