Current Canadian initiatives to reimburse live organ donors for their non-medical expenses.
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Living organ donors frequently incur non-medical expenses for travel, accommodation, prescription drugs, loss of income, and child care in conjunction with organ donation. Despite international precedent and widespread public support, Canada currently lacks a unified strategy to reimburse donors for these expenses. In 2005, we communicated with 78 individuals within the field of Canadian transplantation to identify which initiatives for reimbursement of living donors existed in each province. Saskatchewan was the only province in which public employees were granted paid leave for organ donation. Six provincial governments partially reimbursed travel and accommodation. At the federal level, other expenses could be partially reimbursed through an income tax credit, while the Employment Insurance program and the Canada Pension Plan provided funding for donors who become unemployed or develop long-term disability as a result of donation. Charities helped a limited number of patients in financial need through grants and no-interest loans, but funding was generally limited by contributions received. While reimbursing living donors for their non-medical expenses is considered just, existing programs only partially reimburse expenses and are not available in all provinces. Developing future reimbursement policies will remove a disincentive faced by some potential donors, and may increase rates of transplantation in Canada.
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