Compensating Kidney Donors is Supported by Over 85% of US Adults as Reported by Acumen Health Research Institute

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The majority of Americans support compensating living kidney donors for the financial and medical consequences associated with organ donation.

Compensating live kidney donors is supported by 85.7% (±2.0% margin of error) of adults in the United States according to a study by Acumen Health Research Institute (AHRI). The form of compensation varies. Most support compensating donors for all out-of-pocket costs. Others prefer offering the donor a fixed payment of up to $50,000, or providing them with additional health insurance to cover health risks following the donation. Such compensation would foster more equitable kidney donations, which are now primarily limited to those who can afford to pay these expenses up front.

The results suggest support for amending the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), which currently prohibits compensation for organ donation. “Such an amendment would save lives and needs to be moved forward quickly,” said Amy Morlock, Managing Director, AHRI.

Patients waiting for a kidney suffer from significantly reduced quality of life and increased healthcare costs.(1)(2) Each day, about 11 people die waiting for a kidney and 13 become too sick to remain on the waiting list. Approximately 100,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. It is estimated that less than 20,000 of these patients will receive a kidney transplant this year.(3)

Compensating kidney donors also has the potential to reduce healthcare costs for patients and society overall. Patients on dialysis have healthcare costs of over $75,000 per year.(2) Studies have found that transplant patients derive a savings in healthcare costs of approximately $250,000 per patient over a five-year period.(4)

World Kidney Day is March 9, 2017. One objective of World Kidney Day is to "encourage transplantation as a best-outcome option for kidney failure, and the act of organ donation as a life-saving initiative."(5) Amending NOTA would be a step towards promoting this objective.

AHRI is a non-profit research organization committed to improving healthcare through population based studies. For more information visit

(1)Lee YJ, Kim MS, Cho S, Kim SR. Association of depression and anxiety with reduced quality of life in patients with predialysis chronic kidney disease. Int J Clin Pract. 2013;67(4):363-8.
(2)Fry-Revere S. Congress can save thousands of lives by repealing the prohibition against paying organ donors. Forbes. Oct 24, 2014. Available at Accessed January 30, 2017.
(3)United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Data-based on OPTN data as of February 13, 2017.
(4)Rees MA, Schnitzler MA, Zavala E, et al., Call to develop a standard acquisition charge model for kidney paired donation.

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