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Living Donor Fast Facts
Any live donor, even if its a total mismatch is better than the best deceased donor," says Dr. Shield of St. Francis Hospital, Kansas, "Kidneys from a living donor
are always healthier."
Benefit to the recipient is the primary reason why the transplant
industry emphasizes living organ donations over the prevention of end-stage
renal failure, improving the quality of life on dialysis, the artificial
kidney, or maximizing deceased donation by fixing the waitlist and
eliminating geographical hording. Unfortunately, the industry tends to
forget that living donors are people with families, friends and futures, not
just organ incubators.
1/3 of persons on the national transplant wait list are considered 'inactive', ineligible for surgery even if an organ become available. 52%
of deaths on the transplant waitlist are of inactives (57) [See
About the Wait List for more]
Medicare pays an average of $106,000 for a
kidney transplant, regardless of whether the kidney comes from a living or
deceased donor. And living donor transplants generally cost less --
about 15 to 20 percent less at the university hospital, for example.
That means the hospital stands to make 15 to 20 percent more per
It is illegal in the U.S. to accept payment of any kind for an organ. However, NOTA 1984 states that reasonable payments for expenses
related to travel, wages lost and housing incurred during living
organ donation is permissible. [See Legal for more]
A 2010 analysis shows that 18% of living organ donors are
uninsured at time of donation (208). Because nearly half of
living donors during this period didn't have a reported
insurance status, the real number is most likely much higher.
[Note: Not having health insurance leaves living donors
vulnerable to medical costs
related to complications, as well unable to procure follow-up care.
Consequently, complications from living organ donation are severely
underreported. See Living Donor Bills &
Insurance for more on how living donors can protect
themselves from unpaid costs]
There is no law in the U.S. preventing insurance companies
from denying coverage based on living donation. It is considered an elective procedure, and the lack of a kidney a 'pre-existing condition'. NY Attorney General released the following statement
allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to living donors in 2008.
[Note: The Affordable Health Care Law of 2010 eliminates denial of
insurance based on pre-existing conditions, but living kidney donors have
reported being forced into the high-risk pool.]
Livers are the only organs that regenerate. However, an adult
recipient takes 65-70% of a donor's liver, and there is NO clinical data
on how that sort of loss affects an individual short or long-term. [See
Liver Donation section for more]
A living donor's remaining kidney will hypertrophy, but will never regain pre-donation kidney function. [See
for more on hypertrophy]
Living donor organs compose approximately 47% of all transplanted organs in the U.S.