The Kidney Dialogues: "A Preexisting Condition"

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by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

One of the unspoken pitfalls of being a living donor is that, under current law, health insurers can consider your lack of a second kidney as a preexisting condition.  My dad gave my brother a kidney just two years ago.  He applied for new health insurance, only to be denied.  My mom's health insurance still covers him, but her job as a Catholic school teacher is increasingly unstable from year to year.  My dad still has a few years until Medicare kicks in, so we're all holding our breath that it my mom keeps her current job (and his current insurance) until then. 

My brother will need a second transplant at some point in his life as he just turned 30.  I am the other match that we found among family members.  I only hope that the law has changed before my kidney is needed.  I can't imagine, when the time comes, having my own children without being able to get covered by health insurance.

Until laws change and being a living donor becomes more economically feasible, then I'm afraid many tens of thousands of people will continue to die each year on the waiting list. 

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