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Transplant organization supports living organ donors

Goal is to minimize lost wages when they are in recovery.

The Mount Laurel-based American Society of Transplantation (AST), an organization dedicated to advancing the field of transplantation and improving patient care, has announced its partnership with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) in the former’s “Living Donor Circle of Excellence” program.

A living organ donation will typically require a leave of absence for a kidney donor to recover. The “Circle of Excellence” aims to break down financial barriers for living organ donors and make living donations more accessible. The program has 77 participating employers and about 1.8 million employees throughout the U.S. and Canada it covers.

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Interested companies need to complete an application and submit their policy and logo to become a “Circle of Excellence” member. According to the kidney foundation, the human resources policies of member employers cover 1.8 million employees if they choose to engage in the benefit. Of that number, 39 have done so, receiving financial support after deciding to be a living donor. 

The program also celebrates employers through member benefits and recognition throughout the year at public events hosted by both the transplantation society and the kidney foundation. Employers (or members) are required to provide a minimum salary support of 80 percent to eligible employees who choose to be a living organ donor for a minimum of four weeks; any additional support is at the employer’s discretion.

Employers who join may also offer financial support to employees in need of an organ transplant whose living donor faces a loss of income during recovery. Many employers in the program may also opt to support travel, lodging, child care or other expenses incurred by living donors.

In a release, Kevin Longino, CFO of the foundation and a kidney transplant recipient, emphasized the importance of eliminating potential financial barriers for living donors.

“Every day, 12 people die on the waitlist,” he explained. “We need to rip down every possible barrier to becoming a living donor, and employers who join the “Circle of Excellence” are doing just that. 

“By supporting those willing to help others struggling with life-threatening illness and helping to reduce any financial burden from living donation, employers can actively promote access to transplantation for all,” Longino added.

Dr. John Gill, president of the transplantation society, said that by joining the program, companies show support to employees who want to be living organ donors.

“Even though a company may be unlikely to pay out (an employee’s full salary), just implementing the policy that says, ‘Hey, if you choose to be an organ donor, we’ve got your back,’ is a huge message,” Gill said.

“It’s a transformative change just in terms of the ethos of a company.”

In a release, Gill emphasized the benefits of the program and the positive influence living donations have on humanity.

“The ‘Circle of Excellence’ gives employers the opportunity to be heroes to their employees,” he noted. “A living donor’s gift is lifesaving for patients in need of a kidney or liver transplant, and has a huge positive impact on society.

“Patients facing life-threatening diseases can live normal lives, raise their families, and participate in their communities,” Gill added. “By supporting living organ donors, we are also building stronger communities.”

To learn more about the “Living Donor Circle of Excellence” program, visit www.livingdonorcircle.com.

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