More On Compensation for Organ Donors

Just yesterday I wrote a blog on compensating organ donors.  The response has been excrellent.  Obviously there are many people with very strong opinions on the subject most of which support some kind of compensation, like paying for funeral expenses.  Doing so would not only help donor families but might also serve as an incentive for future organ donors.  The “devil” though, is always in the details.  We would have to find a compensation method that is fair perhaps one similar to the current system where the recipients insurance pays for donor related medical expenses.  Funeral’s probably are far less expensive that the cost of the medical team that removes and transports the organ.  The information on the “Motley Fool” site may be helpful to you as you consider the issue.

Excerpt from “The Motley Fool”  Here’s a breakdown of average costs, nationwide, according to a 1999 National Association of Funeral Directors ( survey. Some parts of the country will be more expensive, though, and others will be less expensive. In addition, you can spend a lot more or a lot less, depending on some decisions you make.    Of course, this isn’t all that’s involved. It’s just what a funeral director would typically be involved in. Here are some additional expenses:

  • Cemetery plot: $500 to several thousand
  • Opening and closing the grave: $350 to $1,500, depending on the time and day of the week
  • Headstones, statues, or markers: $500 to several thousand
  • By contrast, a cremation can cost just $1,500 or less.

So far the discussion has concentrated on donors who die, but what about living donors, the people who give a kidney or a portion of their liver, how do we compensate them?  Transplant Living URL

Excerpt from Transplant Living:  Medical expenses associated with living donor evaluation are covered by either the recipient’s insurance or in certain circumstances, by the Transplant Centers Organ Acquisition Fund (OAF). In either instance, the living donor should not incur any expenses for the evaluation. However, expenses related to another health concern that may identified during the evaluation process will not be covered by the recipient’s insurace or the OAF.

The actual donation surgery expense is covered by the recipient’s insurance. The transplant center will charge a recipient’s insurance an “acquisition fee” when he or she receives a transplant. The medical costs related to the donation procedure and required postoperative care are also covered by this fee. In some instances, the actual itemized bill for the donor procedure is submitted to the recipient’s insurance.

Anything that falls outside of the transplant center’s donor evaluation is not covered. These costs could include annual physicals, travel, lodging, lost wages and other non-medical expenses. Although it is against the law to pay a living donor for the organ, these costs may be covered by the recipient. Be sure to check your specific insurance policy or ask a transplant financial coordinator about concerns related to your specific circumstances.

Here’s another great source: Washington University Medical School in St. Louis.

Excerpt from Washington University Medical School in St. Louis: “Last year nearly 7,000 people donated a kidney, segment of the liver or lobe of a lung to help someone in need of a transplant. In fact at some major transplant centers — like Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital at Washington University Medical Center — the number of transplants involving living organ donors now exceeds the number of transplants using organs from deceased donors.

In an effort to close the gap between organ supply and demand, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, the University of Michigan and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons are studying ways to reimburse living donors for some of their out-of-pocket expenses when they choose to donate an organ.”

Obviously the issues are numerous but we can only change things if we speak out and let the world know what we think about them.  As I said in yesterday’s blog, I will forward all comments to policy makers and thought leaders around the country.  Please, Please comment. 

PS After writing this blog I noticed a comment that directly address the issue of living donors.  Please read the comment but here is a very helpful URL


About Bob Aronson

Bob Aronson is a former journalist, a Minnesota Governor's Press Secretary and talk show host. For nearly a quarter of a century, he led the Aronson Partnership, a Minnesota-based communications consultancy that prepared corporate and government executives for crisis situations, regulatory testimony, media interviews and Presentations. Among his clients were all three U.S. Mayo Clinic locations, 3M, general Mills, CH2M Hill, the U.S. Department of Energy and scores more. In 2007 bob had a heart transplant after suffering from idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy for 12 years. Shortly after he got his new heart he founded the now 4,300 member Facebook support group, Organ Transplant Initiative. At the same time, he established the Bob's Newheart blog where he has posted nearly 300 columns on organ donation, transplantation and other health related issues. The Viewpoint blog was started in late 2016 and bears the name of the Radio Talk show Bob did from 1966 until 1974, when he resigned to become Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich first Press secretary. Bob and his artist wife Robin, live in Jacksonville, Florida with their two dogs, Reilly and Ziggy. Bob is also a woodworker and makes all of the furnishings for Robin's art festival booth. He also makes one of a kind jewelry or "memories" boxes that he donates to select transplant patients, caregivers, donor families and others who have somehow contributed to making life easier for the ill, the elderly and the less fortunate. Bob is in the final stages of editing two full-length novels that will be available on Kindle when ready for release sometime in early 2017. One is a sci fi novel about an amazing discovery near Roswell, New Mexico and you will be surprised to find it has nothing to do with the Roswell story everyone knows. It features a woman scientist who investigates impact craters for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Dr. Rita Sylvester and her female student intern. The other book is a political thriller that introduces a new hero to the genre, Fargo Dennison.

Posted on January 21, 2008, in Donor Compensation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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