Does it cost money to donate a kidney?
There are no direct costs to donate a kidney. But some indirect costs you may want to think about are that you may lose pay because of missed work while you complete the donor evaluation, have the surgery, and recover. As a donor you’ll need 6 to 12 weeks off school or work to recover from surgery.
Other costs you may need to think about are:
- travel costs - if the surgery centre is not where you live
- living expenses
- child, parent, or pet care
You may want to talk with your employer about your decision to become a donor. You could ask if there’s any financial support you can get while you’re off work. Work with them to see if sick or vacation time, short-term disability benefits, or medical employment insurance benefits are options for you.
Some organizations or companies have benefit plans where you may be eligible for wage replacement after donation. If you think you may be eligible for this, talk with your Living Donor Program.
If you’re a Canadian resident, your provincial healthcare insurance pays all the medical costs for donors which includes the evaluation. Medical coverage includes your hospital stay, surgery, and all the medicine you’ll need while you’re in the hospital. It doesn’t pay for medicine you’ll need when you’ve left the hospital and are back home.
For medical costs not covered by your healthcare plan, you may want to see if there are any tax credits to help you get back some of your expenses.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada and Alberta Health and Wellness offer the
Living Organ Donor Expense Reimbursement Program. This is a program that may pay back some of the expenses to eligible living donors. If you’re eligible, usually you’ll get your approved costs back after you’ve donated an organ.
To learn more about the Living Organ Donation Expense Reimbursement Program and how to apply to get back what you spent, contact the
Kidney Foundation. To find the Alberta branch closest to you, use the drop-down menu on the location button at the top of the page.
- Northern Alberta and the Territories
- Southern Alberta
You can also talk to your Living Donor Program coordinator or social worker about what kind of help may be available for you.
Please note, in Canada it is illegal to be paid to donate a kidney. You also cannot accept gifts for donating a kidney. For more information about this, go to
If you live outside Canada, your donor costs may be covered by your medical insurance plan. If it isn’t covered, check with the Living Donor Program. The Alberta Health Services Living Donor Program may be able to help with some of the costs. You must ask the recipient’s Kidney Transplant Program
before getting any tests done. Each request is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Donors from outside the country are also covered for assessment and surgery if it is done in Canada. Donors from outside the country who complete testing in their own country may have to pay first before the tests are done. The Living Donor Program may be able to pay back some of the costs, but this is not guaranteed.
As the information on the eligibility of out of country living donors changes occasionally, please contact the Living Donor Program with any questions about out of country living kidney donors.
Will donating a kidney affect my insurance?
Talk to your insurance company for each kind of insurance you have. This includes life, mortgage, and long-term disability insurance.
It’s important for
all potential donors to be aware that new and unexpected findings may come up during your evaluation. This could make it difficult or impossible to get further medical insurance coverage.
It is strongly recommended all donors check their health insurance policies before starting their evaluation.
Check with your life insurance company to see if donating a kidney will affect your coverage or your ability to get coverage. You may want to ask if:
- the insurance you have now will be affected if a new health concern is found while you’re being evaluated
- your insurance company will still insure you
- your premiums will go up because of the donation
- your long-term disability insurance covers you in case of a complication from the surgery
You may want to think about the possibility that getting life insurance after this surgery could be affected if you don’t already have it before surgery. If you have home mortgage insurance, find out if it will be affected by the donation.