Compo for organ donation 'not enough' 29 January 2005
By KELLY ANDREW
Medical experts are not convinced a new compensation scheme will be enough to boost the number of live organ donors.
The Government announced yesterday that people who donate a kidney or liver tissue will be eligible for between $164 and $290 a week for up to three months after surgery as a contribution toward lost income.
The payment, which will be managed by Work and Income, is the same as the sickness benefit, which starts at $164 for a single adult and is $290 a week for a couple with two or more children.
Donors will also be given help with childcare costs, and will not have to use their sick or annual leave when they take time off work to recover from the operation, which can take six weeks.
They are not covered by ACC and till now have had to rely on employer support to take extended leave.
Wellington Hospital renal medicine clinical leader Grant Pidgeon welcomed the move, but said it was probably not enough to increase donor numbers.
"I'm not sure that the level will be sufficient to make a difference. . . . We would probably have preferred full compensation for loss of income."
Dr Pidgeon, who is also chairman of the National Renal Advisory Committee, said it seemed unfair that people ended up losing money after the "altruistic act" of giving an organ.
About 350 New Zealanders are on the waiting list for organ transplants, most of them needing kidneys.
Last year 51 live donors gave kidneys for transplant, and since 1998 two live donors have given parts of their liver.
Organ donation campaigner Andy Tookey said the Government's compensation offer was paltry.
"One hundred and sixty four dollars a week is not going to encourage anyone to become a donor. If you're going to all that trouble and pain and suffering, would you want to subject yourself to Work and Income and all the rules and regulations of getting a benefit?" Donors should be reimbursed for their total expenses and lost earnings, he said.
"When you're saving lives and you're saving the country $60,000 to $80,000 a year by helping someone off dialysis you shouldn't have to be out of pocket."
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