ROCKVILLE, Md. (May 25, 2021) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) commends Texas Governor Greg Abbott for signing into law important protections for living organ donors. H.B. 317 prohibits life, disability and long-term care insurers from discriminating against living organ donors by declining or limiting coverage due to their status as an organ donor, charging living organ donors more for a policy, and from precluding a person from donating all or part of an organ as a condition of their policy.
AKF worked closely with bipartisan H.B. 317 sponsors Rep. Andrew Murr in the House and Sen. Boris L. Miles — a kidney transplant recipient himself — in the Senate to move the bill through the Texas Legislature. AKF is spearheading the nationwide effort to pass living donor protections at the state level, and since 2019, 16 states have signed these bills into law, including New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania and Kentucky earlier this year.
"The American Kidney Fund applauds Texas for enacting legislation that will ensure no one who chooses to make the lifesaving gift of organ donation falls victim to discriminatory insurance practices because of that decision," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "Governor Abbott's signature on this bill will remove barriers for living organ donors and ultimately will save lives by increasing the number of kidneys and other organs available for Texans who are awaiting transplantation."
Increasing living donor protections is a cornerstone of AKF's policy agenda, and earlier this year, AKF released its first annual State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card, which 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. H.B. 317 is Texas' second piece of living donor legislation, moving the state's Report Card grade up from a D to a C.
"Even as we recognize the significance of Texas' enactment of this legislation, we recognize that there is much more that needs to be done nationwide to secure living donor protections," said Burton. 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 8,300 Texans 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 Texas, 613 of 2,242 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.