Live organ donation

Information about donating a kidney or part of a liver, the financial assistance available for eligible live donors, including backdated compensation payments.

Donation of a kidney or part of a liver can significantly improve the duration and quality of life for many people. Removing barriers to live organ donation is important to help people get the transplant they need.

On this page:

Becoming a donor

Deciding to become a live organ donor is a big decision. To be able to donate an organ you will need to have medical tests and checks to make sure this type of surgery is suitable for you.

The following websites provide information about live organ donation in New Zealand:  

Donor liaison coordinators in hospitals can provide you with more information. If you go ahead with the donation they will help you through the process and provide support.

To be connected to the relevant donor liaison coordinator you can phone:

Financial assistance for live organ donors

UPDATE: Changes under the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act 2016

  • Currently the Ministry of Social Development provides live organ donors with some financial assistance for those who do not use their paid annual or sick leave, or if they take paid leave that is less than their normal pay.
  • From 5 December 2017, the Ministry of Health will provide compensation to donors who forgo earnings.
  • Live organ donors who are eligible will be paid 100 percent of their lost income from the day of their surgery, and for up to 12 weeks while recovering.
  • Backdated compensation is available for people who donated an organ between 12 September 2016 and 4 December 2017 and are eligible.

Live organ donors may also be able to get assistance for travel or accommodation costs through the National Travel Assistance Scheme.

Home help and childcare costs are not included under the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act 2016. 

Eligibility for compensation

Anyone who donates an organ (either a kidney or part of their liver) in New Zealand, regardless of citizenship, residency or visa status, can receive compensation for loss of earnings.

To be eligible for compensation you will need to be in paid employment.

Only a donor who has given up earnings (section 9 of the Act) will be a qualifying donor. The donor will need to be on unpaid leave in order to be eligible.

Due to the compensation available under the Act you will not need to use your annual or sick leave unless you need to be off work for longer than the maximum 12 week period covered by the Act.

You are also entitled to compensation for loss of earnings if: 

  • you earn income in addition to receiving a benefit from the Ministry of Social Development
  • you are on paid parental leave
  • you are living overseas and the surgery takes place in New Zealand and meets other criteria. See overseas donors

Amount of compensation

Live organ donors who are eligible for Live Organ Donor Compensation will be paid 100 percent of their lost income from the day of their surgery and for up to 12 weeks while recovering. You will need to provide evidence of earnings and a medical certificate.

Compensation will be subject to tax.

Travel and accommodation assistance

You may be entitled to have some of your travel and accommodation costs associated with the organ donor surgery reimbursed. 

The National Travel Assistance Policy and Live Organ Donation Travel and Accommodation Reimbursement Protocol describe what you will be entitled to.

Your donor coordinator can discuss with you what you may be eligible for and help you complete the application forms.

Overseas donors

If you wish to donate an organ but are living overseas, you are still eligible for compensation for loss of earnings as long as:

  • the donor surgery and recovery takes place in New Zealand
  • the person receiving your organ is eligible for public health services in New Zealand. (Read about eligibility for health care.)
  • you provide proof of your verified earnings translated into English.

You may also be entitled to travel and accommodation assistance within New Zealand. Your donor liaison coordinator at the hospital where the surgery will be carried out will provide information on this.

How to apply

During your assessment to make sure this type of surgery is suitable for you there will be help for you to register and apply for compensation.

You will be eligible to be paid Live Organ Donor Assistance by the Ministry of Social Development until the Ministry of Health takes over the payments from 5 December 2017. 

Discuss this with your donor liaison coordinator if you need help applying.

For an application form you can phone the Ministry of Social Development Contact Centre or visit the Work and Income website:

Backdated compensation for donations between 12 September 2016 and 4 December 2017

If you made a live organ donation between 12 September 2016 and 4 December 2017 then you will be able to claim for compensation for loss of earnings under the new Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act 2016.

The amount will be the difference between what you have received through the Ministry of Social Development during this time and anything you would be entitled to when the Ministry of Health takes over payments from 5 December 2017. Application forms will be available at that time.

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