Press release

American Kidney Fund Commends Missouri Governor Mike Parson for Signing Living Organ Donor Protections into Law

SB 551, sponsored by Sen. Paul Wieland, prevents discrimination by insurers against living donors

ROCKVILLE, Md. (July 16, 2020)  — The American Kidney Fund (AKF), the nation's leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, applauds the passage of Missouri Senate Bill 551 into law with its signing by Gov. Mike Parson. The law could help increase the availability of organs for transplant from living donors in the state.

AKF is grateful to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Paul Wieland, and to all of Missouri's lawmakers who voted in support of living organ donation. SB 551 will prohibit life, disability and long-term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors.

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. Kidneys are the most common organ transplanted from living donors, followed by liver and lung. Today, 1,600 Missourians are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants; 88% of them are waiting for a kidney, the most common organ donated by living donors.

Prohibiting insurers from discriminating against living donors is sound public policy backed up by research which has shown that people who donate a kidney live just as long as similarly healthy people who have both kidneys. In fact, a person may only donate a kidney if he or she is in excellent health.

"At a time when our country is facing a public health crisis due to the pandemic, we applaud Governor Parson and the Missouri legislature for taking this important step forward by adding Missouri to a growing list of states that have recognized the importance of removing barriers to living organ donation," said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. "Encouraging living donation, which could increase the supply of kidneys for Americans living with kidney failure isn't just a humanitarian gesture; it's also smart policy."

AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2019, AKF helped 1,400 people nationwide have transplants, including 56 in Missouri. 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 nonprofit with the greatest direct impact on people with kidney disease. AKF works on behalf of 1 in 7 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. AKF fights for kidney health for all through programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy. AKF is one of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 21 consecutive years and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly known as GuideStar. 

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