Logo for: National Kidney Registry

Can I Be Reimbursed for Travel Costs When I Donate a Kidney?

Michael Lollo, NKR Chief Strategy Officer

Becoming a living kidney donor is a wonderful, generous act that can save someone’s life. People become living kidney donors because they want to help someone in need, not because they will receive any type of compensation.

However, the process of donating a kidney does sometimes result in additional costs for the donor. In some cases, living donors may have to travel to a transplant center in another city or even another state for testing and the donation surgery. In addition, caregivers may also incur travel costs due to having to stay near the transplant center while the donor recovers in the hospital.

To help donors and their families with these travel expenses, the National Kidney Registry offers the Donor Shield program. Donor Shield is a comprehensive suite of support and protections, including reimbursement for donation-related travel costs including airfare, other types of transportation, accommodations, and meals.

Here’s what you need to know about reimbursement for travel costs related to your kidney donation.

Am I Eligible for Donation-Related Travel Reimbursement?

All donors who donate through the National Kidney Registry, including paired donation or voucher donation, or through a Donor Shield Direct Center are automatically covered by Donor Shield. Donors are not required to provide financial or income information in order to qualify, and no one is disqualified on the basis of income. Click here to locate a transplant center that participates in Donor Shield.

What Travel Expenses are Covered by Donor Shield?

Covered travel expenses include transportation (taxi, ride share, car rental, parking), mileage (IRS medical mileage rate), lodging (hotel, motel, Airbnb, etc.), and meals for the donor and an accompanying caregiver. The only expense not covered is gas, because the costs of gas, insurance, and wear and tear on the vehicle are factored into the IRS medical mileage rate, which is 22 cents per mile as of the end of 2023.

Donors covered by Donor Shield are eligible for reimbursement of donation-related travel, lodging, and meal costs up to a maximum of $6,000. (Dependent care costs are also included in this $6,000 maximum. For more information on reimbursement for kidney donation-related dependent care costs, see What if I Need Childcare or Dependent Adult Care During My Kidney Donation?)

How are Donation-Related Travel Expenses Reimbursed?

Donors and their accompanying caregivers pay for travel costs out of pocket, then submit the receipts for reimbursement. Receipts are required for travel, lodging, and meal reimbursement.

All reimbursements for travel, lodging, and meals are made within approximately 10 business days after submission of receipts. Reimbursements to the donor are via ACH to U.S. bank accounts that are maintained in the name of the donor.

For more information on reimbursement for kidney donation-related travel expenses, visit Donor Shield.