Press release

American Kidney Fund Commends Pennsylvania State Legislature, Governor for Enacting Protections for Living Organ Donors

HB 203 prevents insurance discrimination against living donors and provides job-protected leave under FMLA

ROCKVILLE, Md. (April 27, 2021)  — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) applauds Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for signing HB 203, the Living Donor Protection Act, into law. The bill will help increase the availability of organs for transplant from living donors in the state.

AKF worked closely with HB 203 sponsor Rep. Tarah Toohil (116th Legislative District) to move this bill through the Pennsylvania State Legislature. HB 203 prohibits insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage for living organ donors, as well as from charging them higher premiums. It also provides job-protected leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to people who choose to make the lifesaving gift of organ donation. AKF is leading a nationwide effort to pass living donor protections at the state level, and since 2019, 13 states have signed into law legislation spearheaded by AKF.

"With the passage of this bill, Pennsylvania joins a growing list of states that have enacted these common-sense, lifesaving policies in recent years," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "Ultimately, living donor protection laws will save lives by shortening the transplant waiting list."

This bill is the second living donor protection legislation signed into law in Pennsylvania, and it moves the state up from a D grade to a C on AKF's 2021 State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card. AKF's Report Card 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. The overall grade average for the United States is a D.

Most transplanted organs are from deceased donors, but patients may also receive organs from living donors. Kidneys received from living donors last, on average, 15-20 years — almost twice as long as kidneys from deceased donors. Living donation offers an alternative for individuals awaiting transplantation from a deceased donor and increases the existing organ supply. Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organ from living donors, followed by livers.

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 they are in excellent health.

There are more than 117,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list and nearly 100,000 of them are waiting for a kidney. In Pennsylvania, more than 6,000 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list. Of the 23,644 kidney transplants performed in the U.S. in 2020, 5,234 were made possible by living organ donors. In Pennsylvania, 288 of 1,137 kidney transplants last year 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's assistance made 1,615 transplants possible — 7% of all kidney transplants performed in the U.S. 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 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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