Reimbursement for Living Organ Donors in America:
According to the website, Donate Life America, more than 100,000 men, women, and children currently need life-saving organ transplants. In 2009, there were only 8,021 deceased organ donors, and 6,610 living donors resulting in 28,465 organ transplants. This massive shortage in organ donors brings about a crisis among many waiting for an organ. While the process is still illegal in the United States, black markets have made organ donations profitable to those who are willing to donate while giving the wealthy an advantage over individuals with less monetary resources. However, other countries such as Canada, France and The United Kingdom, have introduced reimbursement programs that pay out of pocket expenses for the live donor. These expenses can include: lost wages, travel expenses, lodging, and meals. While 90% of Americans say they support donations, only 30% know the essential steps to take to become a donor. This has made finding new avenues of educating and luring live donors essential. Live donors are able to donate: a single kidney, portions of the liver, lobes of the lungs, and portions of the pancreas. Should the United States initiate a reimbursed organ donation program, while introducing government regulation and funding; it would increase the quantity of live tissue donors, making organ donations more accessible to all populations who desperately need them. Currently Canada has a non-profit government funded reimbursement program in which live donors are compensated for expenses such as, travel, lodging, and lost wages. This program has been credited for increasing the amount of live donors by 25% in the last 5 years (Daniels 451). Comparably in the United States, the recipient of the organ is responsible to pay costs that are not covered under their health insurance plan. This poses a problem for those who do not have the monetary means to compensate a willing live donor; especially among those who have suffered from lengthy illness. In addition, because no assistance programs are currently available to assist recipients who are not able to pay these costs, they are left to wait on the national waiting list for a deceased donor. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, only a quarter of those on the National Organ Registry List will actually receive an organ before dying. This staggering statistic is discouraging and preventable should the US allow such a program to be put into action. Currently, patients who are in the end stages of renal disease can be treated with kidney donations from live donors. This treatment increases life expectancy and improves an extremely ill patient’s quality of life. In addition patients receive relief from the costs of completing dialysis. “In Canada, the growth of solid-organ transplantation over the past decade has primarily been attributable to increases in living organ donation for which rates have doubled with in the past decade” (Klarenback 797). Although this strategy has improved a gloomy picture, waiting lists for organs continue to expand and solutions for reducing financial barriers that inhibit live donations are needed. Although Canada has seen great success with these incentives, America has laws in place that often restrain the live donors in the U.S. On a single living kidney donation is projected that a chronically ill renal patient can increase their life expectancy by 2-3.5 years, and save the American health plan over $100,000. However, financial impact on live donor is rarely examined. Most donors are most often affected by hidden costs. As mentioned before, these costs can include travel, meals, lodging, and even parking expenses. In one follow-up study, financial hardship or significant financial burden was reported by 23% of people who donated a kidney (Klareback 797). Often costs that impact the donor are not seen as substantial once compared to the recipient. Because spouses,...
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