New Program Encourages Canadian Organizations to Provide Financial Support for Living Organ Donors

The Canadian Society of Transplantation (CST), in collaboration with the American Society of Transplantation (AST), has launched the Living Donor Circle of Excellence program that celebrates employers who implement internal policies that provide salary support to their employees who choose to be a living organ donor.

“Through the Living Donor Circle of Excellence program, we hope to eliminate some of the financial barriers Canadians face when they decide to become an organ donor and encourage more people to consider living donation,” said Dr. Joseph Kim, President, Canadian Society of Transplantation.

Living organ donation plays a significant role in saving and enhancing the lives of many. However, living donation in Canada has decreased in recent years. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s CORR e-Statistics report, the living donor rate in Canada was 15.0 donors per million population in 2018, a decrease of two per cent since 2009.

The financial hardships associated with living organ donation can impact a person’s decision to donate. One of the major expenses is lost wages during recovery post donor surgery. Living organ donation typically includes a four- to six-week recovery period and many will use their vacation time or take unpaid absences during this period to donate. Although there are initiatives and programs to compensate for some out-of-pocket expenses, most Canadian employers do not have policies in place to provide paid time off for employees who wish to donate organs.

“When my husband, Brendan, donated a kidney to me in 2017, we were both incredibly lucky to have the ability to take time off work without financial strain,” said Joanne Kearney, live donor kidney transplant recipient and co-founder of the Centre for Living Organ Donation. “The Circle of Excellence addresses a barrier to the selfless act of living organ donation, and offers all involved – employers, living donors and organ recipients – an opportunity that is literally life-saving.”

The CST is proud to welcome Canadian Blood Services and Paladin Labs, a subsidiary of Endo International plc, as Supporting Partners and Members of the Living Donor Circle of Excellence. By simply putting a paid leave policy in place, these organizations have demonstrated their support and commitment for role that living organ donation plays in saving and enhancing the lives of many Canadians.

“We want our employees to feel supported and empowered to make these life-changing decisions,” says Andrew Pateman, Vice President, People, Culture and Performance at Canadian Blood Services. “We want to lead by example and hope that other organizations will follow suit.”

The Living Donor Circle of Excellence program advocates for the wellbeing of living donors and the AST is looking forward to partnering with CST to expand this program globally,” added Richard Formica, MD, FAST, American Society of Transplantation President.

To learn more about the CST Living Donor Circle of Excellence program and how to join the circle, visit the website here.

About the Canadian Society of Transplantation

The Canadian Society of Transplantation is the organization of professionals dedicated to leading, advancing, and advocating for patient care, research, and education in donation and transplantation in Canada. Its mission is to advance the practice and science of transplantation for the benefit of Canadians and society. For more info, visit the CST website.