Living donors

A living donor is someone who donates a kidney or partial liver to another person; usually a relative or close friend who has end stage kidney disease or liver failure.

Living organ donation is major surgery and is not without risk to the donor. Prospective donors are required to undergo extensive testing to ensure they are physically and mentally able to donate.

Strict medical and legal criteria apply before a living donation can proceed. There must be no evidence of coercion, monetary payment or reward and the donor must have full knowledge of the risks and benefits of the donation.

Additionally, the Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Programme (AKX Programme) is a nationwide living kidney donor program.  The goal of the AKX Programme is to increase living kidney donor transplants by identifying matches for incompatible donor/recipient pairs.

 Read more about the Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Programme.

Support for Living Donors Scheme 

If surgery proceeds, a living donor will require a significant amount of time off work to recover, with the standard recovery period being four to six weeks. Some donors may be required to take this period as leave without pay, or they may exhaust their paid leave entitlements. This can lead to financial stress and, because of this some donors may feel compelled to return to work early against medical advice.

On 1 July 2013, the Australian Government commenced a two-year pilot to support leave for living organ donors. The pilot is intended to alleviate some of the financial burden of living organ donation by providing a payment to employers, to be passed on in the form of paid leave to employees who are unable to work for a period of time because they have donated an organ. 

The payment to employers, including self-employed donors, is available for up to nine weeks based on a 38 hour week, at up to the National Minimum Wage ($656.90 p/w as at 1 July 2015).

On 12 May 2015, it was announced that the program would be extended for a further two years until 1 July 2017, with important changes. 

For more information about the Living Donor Scheme please visit the Department of Health website.

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