by George Taniwaki

Today, I had my rescheduled appointment with the University of Washington Medical Center. The visit consisted of a physical exam by a nephrologist, an interview by the donor advocate, and a variety of medical tests that I’ll describe later.

When I check in at the front desk, the receptionist asks me to sign several forms. One of them is the standard financial responsibility form, which says if my insurance doesn’t pay for today’s procedures, that I will be personally responsible to pay them and may be sued if I don’t pay. I argue that as the donor, my insurance won’t pay and that I’m not expecting to pay anything today. He explains that UWMC won’t charge me for today’s visit, but that the form is required from all patients. I’m not happy, but I sign the form.

While waiting, I realize that it is extremely doubtful that the UWMC, or any other transplant center, would sue a potential organ donor to recover costs. First, it would be bad publicity for the medical center. Second, future potential donors, if they fear that they might be financially responsible for any costs or may be sued, would be discouraged from participating in a transplant. Finally, if a case went to trial, the medical center would likely lose since the judge and jury would tend to side with the donor.

For more information on becoming a kidney donor, see my Kidney donor guide.