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Who Pays for Complications from Kidney Donation Surgery?

Jessica Coleman, RN, Lead Kidney Paired Exchange Coordinator, AdventHealth Transplant Institute at Porter

Most people who become kidney donors do not experience any major complications with the surgery or recovery. It is a very straightforward procedure and one of the safest types of surgery.

According to a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, only 2.5% of people who donated a kidney via laparoscopic surgery at the Mayo Clinic from 2000 to 2019 had major complications, and all of those donors recovered completely. Just over 12% of the donors in the study had minor post-surgical complications.

Another study, based on kidney donors who donated at any center in 2007 and 2008, found that just 2.1% of donors required readmission for complications after donation surgery.

While it’s unlikely for kidney donors to experience complications, if they do, they will need additional medical care and monitoring to ensure their complete recovery, and they may need to take additional time off work or incur additional costs, such as travel and dependent care. But who pays for these costs?

In many cases, medical costs for donation-related complications will be covered by insurance or other sources, such as the donor’s hospital, the recipient’s insurance, workers’ compensation, or disability. Any uncovered medical costs will be covered by Donor Shield, with no set maximum.

Although it is very uncommon to have a complication requiring travel or time off work, Donor Shield offers travel and dependent care reimbursement up to $6,000 and lost wage reimbursement of up to $2,000 per week for treatment of donation-related complications.

Income documentation is required for lost wage reimbursement, and reimbursement beyond six weeks requires advance approval. Donors must provide notification of the uncovered complication through their hospital within 30 days of the complication.

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