To The Editor:
I am writing in response to the two letters written last month on the topic of organ donation. I want to thank the Donor to Donor staff and the Gift of Life Donor Program volunteer for writing their letters to the editor last month in support of actual facts, science, and organ donation. As former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Since the article in the June issue of the New Town Press, I’ve had a few people approach me with their personal connection to kidney disease: Amy at the gym told me about her dad going on dialysis and sadly dying not long after. Bruce from the neighborhood stopped me while I took out the trash to tell me about his fight against kidney disease. Maureen asked for guidance because she was fighting to get on a waiting list to find her own living donor. Real people in our community are affected by organ donation, and I am committed to improving their quality of life and making healthcare more affordable.
In order to improve rates of living organ donation, we need to protect living organ donors from discrimination in the insurance industry. Living donors shouldn’t have to fight for life, long term care, and disability insurance coverage or an affordable premium because they were healthy, brave, and generous enough to save someone’s life. The Living Donor Protection Act (HR1224) would protect living donors.
Also, legislation should be introduced in the near future to extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of an organ recipient’s life instead of just the first three years after a transplant. A recent report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, says that $300 million would be saved over ten years if Medicare were to cover these anti-rejection drugs for the life of a kidney recipient. A patient should not have to risk losing a transplant then reverting to dialysis, which costs Medicare more than $93,000 a year, per patient. Both political parties should be able to unite behind an idea that improves healthcare and saves money.
Many of the politicians I’ve talked to have voiced support for these issues, but it’s been difficult to keep them focused. Fortunately, Rep. Jeff Van Drew has co-sponsored HR1224. Patient advocates like me, are working hard with the National Kidney Foundation, to get all New Jersey legislators to co-sponsor the legislation. Everyone reading this letter can help us – so please contact your legislators!
Kidney donor and volunteer advocate with the National Kidney Foundation