Improved compensation hoped to increase live organ donor rates

(Getty file)
(Getty file)

Organ donor campaigners are hopeful changes to compensation laws will significantly increase the number of New Zealanders opting to become live donors.

There's cross-party support for the Live Organ Donors Bill, which will cover 100 percent of a donor's income for up to 12 weeks during their recovery.

Currently donors are only entitled to a health and disability benefit of up to $375.20 per week through Work and Income.

Organ donor campaigner Andy Tookey told Paul Henry there is only anecdotal evidence the law change will improve donor rates, but he believes that's compelling enough to justify the change.

"There were a lot of people who fronted up to Select Committee and said that the financial barriers were the main reason," he said.

"They can't afford to pay a mortgage, feed the kids and donate a kidney to a family member."

As well as saving more lives, increasing live donor rates also makes financial sense for the health system, Mr Tookey said. Each recipient of a donated kidney who can then be taken off a dialysis machine is estimated to save the health system $120,000.

The original Member's Bill introduced by National MP Chris Bishop set compensation rates at 80 percent, but this was increased to 100 percent before being presented to the Health Select Committee on Wednesday.

"Currently live organ donors are essentially penalised for their altruism, facing a large loss of income while they donate, even though their actions save lives and contribute to a healthier New Zealand," Mr Bishop said in a statement.

"[The revised Bill] is a substantial improvement on the status quo and reflects a 'cost-neutrality' approach, where donating should neither financially advantage or disadvantage a person."

The Bill is likely to have its second reading in October and Mr Bishop hopes it will be passed into law by the end of the year.