SB 704, sponsored by Sens. Terry O'Donnell and Jason Smalley, prevents discrimination by insurers against living donors
ROCKVILLE, Md. (April 12, 2019) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF), the nation's leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans living with kidney disease, applauds the passage of Oklahoma SB 704 into law with its signing by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The law could help increase the availability of organs for transplant from living donors.
AKF is grateful to the bill's sponsors, Sen. Terry O'Donnell and Sen. Jason Smalley, and to all of Arkansas' lawmakers who voted unanimously in support of living organ donation. SB 704 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.
More than 6,400 living-donor kidney transplants were performed last year in the United States, including 45 in Oklahoma.
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.
Nationwide, 114,000 Americans are on the waiting list for organ transplants, including about 97,000 who are waiting for a kidney. In Oklahoma, 540 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list.
"We applaud Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma legislature for adding Oklahoma to a growing list of states that have recognized the importance of removing barriers to living organ donation," said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. "Encouraging living donation that could increase the supply of kidneys for Americans living with end-stage renal disease isn't just a humanitarian gesture; it's also smart fiscal policy."
AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2018, AKF helped more than 1,000 people nationwide have transplants, including 17 in Oklahoma. 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.