President Trump proposes measures to help living kidney donors

Sherri Heller helped save her brother's life by donating a kidney to him.  She is pictured here with your brother. (Source: Gray DC)
Sherri Heller helped save her brother's life by donating a kidney to him. She is pictured here with your brother. (Source: Gray DC)(GRAYDC)
Published: Nov. 8, 2019 at 8:24 AM CST
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Donating a kidney can be an expensive endeavor for Americans. President Trump is proposing a plan to compensate donors for out-of-pocket costs.

“My brother went into sudden kidney failure 5 years ago…it was pretty dire for him,” said Sherri Heller, a living kidney donor.

Sherri Heller saved her brother’s life by donating a kidney to him.

“The gift of life is so precious,” said Heller.

But Heller and other kidney donors like her have to bear some cost of saving lives.

Hospital trips, child care and lost wages from being out of work add up.

“There’s the travel back and forth for testing and screening, for the transplant…I probably spent easily a thousand dollars on hotel rooms and plane fares,” said Heller.

There is already a federal program in place to reimburse *some* of those non-medical expenses. The Administration plans to do more.

President Trump signed an Executive Order in the summer calling for improvements to kidney health across the nation. Right now, there are income caps in place that determine who gets reimbursed for donating a kidney. The order calls for raising those caps and expanding reimbursements to include things like child care and lost wages.

That means more donors will get compensated.

Doctor and Professor Jonathan Moreno at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Ethics and Health Policy said he supports the idea of reimbursing donors, but he is concerned if donors will be compensated fairly.

“The devil is in the details. Some people will lose more wages because they’re bigger earners. Some people won’t lose any…these are hard calls and there will always be criticism that some people are doing it for the money,” said Moreno.

Moreno says certain restrictions are also needed to make sure the reimbursement system doesn’t turn into a payment system for organs.

The President’s proposal has moved on to the next step. It is now being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

Copyright 2019 Gray DC. All rights reserved.

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