A bill which would increase financial support for organ donors while they are recuperating passed its first reading last night with the unanimous support of all parties.
Sponsored by National list MP Chris Bishop, the Financial Assistance to Live Organ Donors Bill would increase support from the equivalent of a sickness benefit to the equivalent of 80 per cent of the donor's pre-operation earnings for 12 weeks -- which is the same formula applied to recipients of ACC - along with childcare payments.
The bill was initially promoted in the name of Michael Woodhouse but ministers are not able to sponsor private members' bills so it was picked up by colleagues and finally drawn from the private members' ballot.
Mr Woodhouse said he had been motivated to draw up the bill after one of his closest childhood friends had faced kidney failure and had had two transplants.
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Mr Bishop said he had been motivated take up the cause after meeting people affected by it.
"During one of my first candidate meetings in 2014, I spoke with 68-year-old Sharon van der Gulik, who had been living with renal failure for more than two years. She could barely walk and needed 15 hours of dialysis a week.
"Her story will be familiar to many New Zealanders, and like many in her situation her best option was a live kidney transplant. She was at one point given just two weeks to live, and dialysis had become so awful that she could not think of continuing treatment past the age of 70.
"Fortunately for Sharon van der Gulik, her incredibly brave 27-year-old grandson Matt was able to donate a kidney to her. But it was tough on him. The $206 or so paid by Work and Income was not enough to cover half his mortgage, and Mrs van der Gulik herself had to help keep Matt financially afloat.
"Mrs van der Gulik and her grandson are, in my view, exactly the kind of brave people this bill attempts to support through proper compensation."
The bill will be considered by the health select committee.