There was a newfound momentum this spring for laws that protect living organ donors, with eight states enacting new legislation. Between April and June, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nebraska, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and Minnesota passed new laws increasing living donor protections. With these laws, each state's grade on AKF's State of the States Living Donor Protection Report Card was raised a letter – and ultimately raised the national average grade from a D to a C!
AKF launched our first annual State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card in 2021 to evaluate how well each state and the District of Columbia protect living organ donors. The Report Card assigns each state a letter grade from A to F based on how well their existing laws encourage living organ donation and reduce barriers for living donors, such as anti-insurance discrimination laws, tax credits for donor expenses and job-protected leave.
AKF has been leading efforts at the state and federal levels to secure these protections. However, we could not have done it without the help of AKF Ambassadors like Kat Velkoff, Beth Burbridge, Ruth and Crystal Scott – as well as all the participants in AKF's 2022 Kidney Action Summit – who spoke to their elected officials, shared their stories and explained why these protections are so important.
This is promising news for people on the transplant waitlist, and the people in their lives who want to donate a lifesaving organ. Donating a kidney is one of the most altruistic actions a person can take, and becoming a living donor is much easier when you have guaranteed paid leave from work and protection from insurance discrimination. Unfortunately, with nearly 106,000 people waiting for an organ transplant — including the nearly 90,000 who are waiting for a kidney — much more needs to be done to ensure that where Americans live does not impact their ability to give the gift of life.
Through the AKF Living Donor Protection Report Card, we hope to continuously shine a bright light on the states that are making progress to encourage living donation while encouraging other states to enact legislation to protect living organ donors.
Although we have made great strides, there is still much more we can do as a nation to protect living donors and encourage more people to become living organ donors. This includes the federal government enacting policies, such as the Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 1255/S. 377), that remove barriers to living donations for all Americans.
For more information on the American Kidney Fund's Report Card, visit livingdonor.kidneyfund.org.