Legacy of Life: Living Organ Donor Policy Gives Gift of Life
NOTE: The following is a feature story on the Living Organ Donor Policy.
When Christine Beck's husband Mike started dialysis treatment in spring 2011, she quickly saw the toll it was taking on his quality of life. It was then that she decided to become a living organ donor. And she knew it wouldn't be easy.
For the better part of a year, she travelled back and forth from Torbrook to Halifax for tests to make sure she was physically ready. After she was physically and financially prepared, she met with a social worker to make sure she was ready mentally.
"Since we live in rural Nova Scotia, almost every test, and of course the surgery itself, involved travelling into Halifax and taking time off work," said Ms. Beck.
While Christine and Mike planned to absorb the cost, others aren't so lucky. There are eligible living organ donors who may like to donate but, financially, giving the gift of life is out of reach.
The province is reducing barriers to organ donation. In November, Nova Scotia introduced the Living Organ Donor Policy, which will help increase the number of living organ donors.
"We all worry about money and our finances, but removing this worry from our minds can make the decision to be a donor that much easier," said Ms. Beck.
Nova Scotians who choose to be living organ donors can now be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses for their donation.
"We want to make it easier for those who want to be a living organ donor. Reducing barriers to organ donation is a win-win-win, for donors, recipients and the health-care system," said David Wilson, Minister of Health and Wellness.
John Thompson is familiar with the living organ donor process and the struggles donors and recipients face. He welcomes the policy change and says it should make a difference.
A social worker with the QEII Health Sciences Centre, he works with the Multi Organ Transplant Program to assess living kidney donors during the final steps of the donation process.
"When I meet with a living organ donor they tell me they've seen how kidney disease affects someone's quality of life and they want to help improve that person's ability to work, their ability to be active, and their ability to be more involved with their families," said Mr. Thompson.
He also says that while living organ donors want to make a difference, for many, the financial strain can be significant.
The new policy applies to all living organ donors who donate to a Nova Scotia recipient or to a donor-recipient pair who are part of the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry, operated by Canadian Blood Services.
Under the policy, eligible donors can claim up to a maximum $5,500 with receipts for:
- limited costs associated with travel and accommodations
- parking costs
- limited amounts for loss of income
- meals to a maximum of $38 per day for seven days (no receipts required for meal allowance)
If you would like to become a donor or want more information, visit www.motphalifax.net or call 1-888-362-8555.