Can I get any financial assistance?

I will need to take time off work for the operation and recovery and I will not be earning any money. Can I get any help with this?

Yes, if you qualify, you could get compensation for the earnings you lose by not being at work. 

The Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act 2016 (the Act) was passed in December 2016. The Act comes into effect by the 5th December 2017. 

To qualify for compensation 

  • you must have been accepted as a suitable donor by the New Zealand health system, and
  • the person receiving your organ must be eligible for publicly funded health services in New Zealand or as part of the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange Program, and.
  • the live organ donor surgery must take place in New Zealand or as part of the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange Program.

You need to lose earnings to be eligible for the compensation (so if you take sick leave/annual leave you are NOT eligible even though you might spend that leave).

The Act says that live organ donors (including live kidney donors) will be compensated for loss of earnings from the date of your operation to the date you go back to work. Loss of earnings will be paid for up to 12 weeks. Many donors will be signed off by the hospital to go back to work earlier than 12 weeks – usually within 6 weeks after their operation. During this time you can return to work part time and receive compensation for the hours you are not working.

The Ministry of Health manages these compensation payments.

Talk to your co-ordinator about how you apply for compensation under the Act. Your co-ordinator will be able to help you to apply or refer you to someone who can help you with your application. You need to start your application as soon as possible once you are assessed as being able to donate as the Ministry of Health has to approve your application for compensation before your operation. 

For more information about the Act please see the Ministry’s website: 

What if I am on a benefit?

You are not entitled to any compensation. However you will be exempt from work test obligations from the time of your operation until you have recovered and a doctor says you are ready to apply for work again. This will be for a maximum of 12 weeks from your operation date. Remember most donors usually recover within 6 weeks of the operation. Talk to your case manager about your situation. You may need to go on a different sort of benefit while you are recovering from your operation. 

If you have earnings on top of your benefit, you may be eligible for compensation to cover this while you are recovering. Talk to your case manager about this and look at the information on the Ministry of Health’s website.

As a donor, you may be able to get most of your travel costs covered by the National Travel Assistance Scheme. 

You should keep all your travel receipts in case you are able to claim for these costs.

You may also be able to get some help with accommodation costs if you have to travel away from your home.

Your transplant co-ordinator can give you information about the National Travel Assistance Scheme and help you fill out any forms.