More transplant centers requiring proof of payment before surgery

In the wake of Hedda Martin raising nearly $31,000 to pay for her own heart transplant, more cases have surfaced of transplant recipients creating fundraisers to cover theirs, Kaiser Health News reports.

Five things to know:

1. Almost all 250 transplant centers in the U.S. require patients to show how they will cover transplant-related bills. A kidney transplant costs $400,000 and a heart transplant costs about $1.3 million. Patients will need a anti-rejection drugs, costing about $2,500 a month, for the rest of their lives.

"It happens every day," Arthur Caplan, PhD, a bioethicist at the New York University Langone Medical Center, told Kaiser Health News. "You get what I call a ‘wallet biopsy.'"

2. More than 114,000 people are on the transplant waiting list. In 2017, fewer than 35,000 organs were transplanted, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

3. Medicare  covers kidney transplants for patients with end-stage renal disease who are younger than 65. The program will stop payments for the anti-rejection drugs after 36 months.

4. Many patients create GoFundMe accounts to trim the cost of their bills, but there is no guarantee  the accounts will cover their complete costs. Any earnings made this way are considered taxable income, Michelle Gilchrist, president and chief executive for the National Foundation for Transplants, told Kaiser Health News.

5. The National Foundation for Transplants helps nearly 4,000 patients a year pay for their transplants and has raised about $82 million for patients since 1983. About 20 percent of the patients who turn to the foundation  each year fail to raise their funds, Ms. Gilchrist told Kaiser Health News.

Read the full article to learn how other transplant recipients covered their transplants.

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