The National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC) will conduct a randomized controlled trial that will assess the impact of interventions intended to remove financial barriers to living organ donation through wage reimbursement.

NLDAC was established in 2007 to administer a grant funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to provide greater access to transplantation for persons who want to donate, but cannot afford the travel and subsistence expenses associated with donation. It currently provides travel and subsistence funds for nearly 1000 people per year who wish to become living organ donors to offset their expenses related to donation.

Living donors usually travel at least three times to the transplant center and are required to stay near the hospital for up to two weeks after the transplant surgery for monitoring. They are unable to work during their donation and recovery time, and the loss of wages can be a significant financial barrier. This study will provide data to help answer the question of whether removing that barrier increases living donation in the United States.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation provided funding for the trial, which will be administered by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in partnership with the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health, with additional researchers from University of Arizona, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Mayo Clinic Arizona.  Five transplant centers with active living donor transplant programs will participate in the trial.

“Removing financial disincentives to organ donation has long been a goal of ASTS,” said Timothy L. Pruett, MD, president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS). “I’m pleased that we are able to conduct this trial and gather data on the extent to which the prospect of lost wages discourages donors from coming forward or even being asked to consider donating. With more than 120,000 people waiting for an organ in the United States, we must do everything possible to ensure that those willing to donate are able to do so without financial harm to themselves or their families.”

The trial will begin in 2017 and is projected to run through 2018.