ROCKVILLE, Md. (April 12, 2022) – The American Kidney Fund (AKF) commends the Commonwealth of Virginia for making living organ donor protections state law. With Gov. Glenn Youngkin's signature, HB 421 will prevent life, disability and long-term care insurers from discriminating against living organ donors by charging them higher premiums or refusing to insure them altogether due to their status as an organ donor.
AKF worked closely with the bill's patron, Del. Karrie Delaney (House District 87) and Sen. Adam Ebbin (Senate District 30), to spearhead the legislation and is thankful for their commitment to enacting protections for living donors in the state. AKF has been leading the nationwide effort to enact living donor protection legislation at the state level. By enacting HB 421, Virginia joins the 22 other states that have provided living organ donors with these important protections in recent years, thanks to AKF's leadership on this issue.
"Thank you to Governor Youngkin, Del. Delaney, Sen. Ebbin and the rest of the Virginia General Assembly for protecting Virginians who choose to give the gift of life through HB 421," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO. "By ending discrimination against living donors, this law will help to save the lives of Virginians awaiting organ transplantation by making it possible for more people to selflessly donate an organ."
Increasing living donor protections is a cornerstone of AKF's policy agenda. AKF's State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card measures seven types of legislation states should 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. HB 421 is the third protection for living donors signed into law in Virginia, moving the state's Report Card grade up from a C to a B. The average grade for the U.S. is a D.
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 present fewer complications than deceased donor transplants and living donor organs typically survive longer than deceased donor organs.
There are more than 106,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list and 92,000 of them, or 87%, are waiting for a kidney. In Virginia, 2,323 people are currently on the kidney transplant waiting list. Of the 25,490 kidney transplants performed in the U.S. in 2021, 1 out of 5 – 5,971 – were made possible by living organ donors. In Virginia, 170 of 684 kidney transplants performed in 2021 were from living donors. AKF is hopeful that the protections in HB 421 will make it possible for a greater number of Virginians to become living donors.
AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2021, AKF grants helped 1,889 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.