Financial Assistance Bill passes second reading
On Wednesday the Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill received its second reading in Parliament, and was unanimously endorsed by the House. Renamed to become the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill, it will see donors fully reimbursed for lost income following their surgery.
“While there will be many past donors wishing such financial support had been available when they donated an organ, I am sure every one of them will be celebrating the changes suggested by the Health Select Committee and unanimously supported by MPs,” Kidney Health New Zealand chief executive Max Reid says. “The Bill effectively removes what research has shown to be one of the single greatest barriers to live organ donation in NZ.”
“Prior to preparing their own submission to the Health Select Committee, Kidney Health New Zealand surveyed some 120 previous live kidney donors. Of those who had utilised the current financial assistance regime – administered by WINZ, and basically offering the equivalent of the sickness benefit – virtually all had found the level of financial assistance woefully inadequate and the process of applying for it both complex and demeaning.
“With current financial assistance insufficient to cover even an average mortgage repayment, the convoluted process of accessing that support proved the ultimate barrier. One survey respondent described it as the only time she cried during the whole donation process.
“Will increasing the level of compensation to 100% of lost income make a difference? Unquestionably so. It has been one of the major disincentives. Research has shown that many prospective transplant recipients don’t even bother to approach friends or family members regarding organ donation because they don’t want to put them in such an invidious financial position.
“The process of this Bill through the House and the Select Committee process has raised awareness of the importance of organ donation, and the value of that not only to the lives of those who receive an organ transplant but also to their families and whanau. For the more than 2,500 patients currently on dialysis – many of whom would benefit from a kidney transplant – that transplant would quite literally give them their life back. Following a kidney transplant, patients live longer, and they live better and fuller lives than were they to remain on dialysis.”
Kidney Health NZ (formally the Kidney Foundation) is a national organisation supporting kidney patients and their families by way of education, advocacy and research across all areas of kidney health - including organ donation and transplant, dialysis, early detection and prevention of chronic kidney disease. For further information or advice, contact the Kidney Health Helpline – 0800 KIDNEYS (543 639)