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Compensation for live organ donors

Live organ donors can now receive compensation for loss of earnings after donating a kidney or part of a liver. Donor Liaison Coordinator Tony Stephens talks about the difference this financial security will make.

Title: New compensation for live organ donors

I’m a registered nurse and I’ve spent most of my nursing career in the renal field. I started this donor liaison coordinator role in June 2015.

Kidney transplants can really transform someone’s life so anything we can do to increase the number of transplants is going to be beneficial for the patients and their families and for society. So I’m part of a team that benefits patients and their families so that’s really important. It gets people off dialysis and allows them to lead a much more normal life if they have a transplant.

Dialysis is a lifesaving therapy but unfortunately it’s very time-consuming with some people spending up to 15 hours a week attached to a dialysis machine or some people spending 8 or 9 hours every night attached to a peritoneal dialysis machine. So this can add up to hundreds of hours easily every year so it’s very difficult for people to fit their normal activities of life around dialysis.

Potential donors will often ring me or get flagged up through other members of the renal service and I’ll speak with them or ideally meet them in person to ask them what their reasons are for wanting to be a donor, I’ll ask them about their health. I’ll explain about the testing process, surgery and recovery.

The tests are designed to keep the donor safe during the surgery so they can stay safe as well as we can tell for the rest of their lives with one kidney. So they’ll see nurses, doctors, anaesthetists, surgeons, psychologists – it’s a really rigorous testing process.

People do have to take time off for surgery and for the recovery.

The person usually spends three to four days in hospital and then goes home to recover and recuperate. Some people need a couple of weeks off work. Others need longer depending on how they are recovering and the kind of work they are doing. The donors have follow up after the surgery to make sure they’re healthy.

There’s going to be a new Act up and running by early December which will give donors 100 percent of their wage or salary so they can cope financially in their time off from work.

So the new Act will ensure that no donor is out of pocket by being a donor. They can just focus on being a donor rather than worrying about paying their mortgage or paying their rent.

There will be forms to fill out for the new compensation and we’ll be able to help donors fill out the forms correctly.

It’s a real privilege to work with donors through this process. And it’s a real privilege for me to see the love people have for their family members or someone in need and I find that the donors are so pleased when they can see or hear about the person in need getting better. And that makes it all worthwhile.

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