Tissue and organ transplants are, quite literally, lifesavers. But the high cost associated with transplant surgery and recovery can put these lifesaving treatments out of reach.
The transplant process is long, usually lasting around 180 days from pre-transplant testing to hospital discharge. Within that timeframe, patients incur a long list of expenses—not to mention lost income.
If you or a loved one is in need of transplant surgery, but you’re worried about the cost, crowdfunding can be an effective way to raise the money needed for the procedure.
Here on GoFundMe, raising funds for transplant surgery is something we see every day. Most common are kidney, liver, heart, and specific tissue transplants. Here’s a bit more information about each of these areas, which could help those seeking or planning transplant surgery.
Organ transplant facts
- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicates that there has been a total of 27,605 organ transplant surgeries performed from January to November of 2016.
- Every 10 minutes the transplant waiting list grows by one person, according to The United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS)
- UNOS reports that the most common types of organ transplants are kidney, liver, and heart. Other organs used for transplant are the lungs, pancreas, and intestines.
The National Kidney Foundation reports that 26 million adults in America have kidney disease, though many are unaware of their condition. The disease is deadly, causing more deaths each year than either prostate or breast cancer. Dialysis is a life-saving treatment for kidney failure and end-stage kidney disease, but not an ideal long-term fix. Beyond an improved quality of life, kidney transplants increase the life expectancy of those with kidney disease.
When disease or injury damages the liver, a transplant offers a chance at longer life. Several factors that go into deciding if a patient qualifies as a candidate for liver transplant surgery. For those who qualify, success rates are promising—the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that about 80 to 85% of transplanted livers are fully functioning one year after transplant.
For someone in the end stages of heart failure, the only means of prolonging life is a heart transplant. Patients on the waiting list for a heart transplant have exhausted all other possible treatment options. The NIH reports that the most common causes of heart failure include hereditary conditions, heart disease, and viral infections. Fortunately, the success rate of heart transplant surgery continues to improve.
Although people tend to be less familiar with tissue transplants, more than 750,000 patients benefit from these procedures each year. A wide variety of tissues are now transplanted, from cornea transplants that restore people’s sight to bones used to save limbs at risk of amputation. Heart valves, veins, and skin are other commonly transplanted tissues.
Transplant surgery costs
The transplantation process is long, usually lasting around 180 days from pre-transplant testing to organ procurement to discharge. Within that time patients will receive a number of bills. The Milliman Research Report found transplant costs estimates from 2017.
- Kidney transplant: $414,800
- Liver transplant: $812,500
- Heart transplant: $1,382,400
- Cornea transplant: $30,200
- Single lung transplant: $861,700
Medical expenses to consider
- Pre-transplant testing
- Health care team fees
- Insurance co-pays and deductibles
- Postoperative care and rehabilitation
- Follow up testing and care
Non-medical expenses to consider
- Lost wages
- Transportation to and from transplant center
- Potential plane travel
- Food for you and your loved ones
- Lodging close to transplant center before and after surgery
Fundraising for transplant surgery
If you can’t donate an organ or tissue to a loved one, you can still offer much-needed support by starting a fundraiser to help pay for expenses. In recent years, crowdfunding has emerged as a very effective resource for patients facing large medical bills. GoFundMe has a 0% platform fee, which means we rely on voluntary tips from donors to help us provide free crowdfunding to those facing hardship.
Beyond the money, medical fundraising can also serve as a new source of emotional support to your loved one. A fundraiser functions as a hub of encouragement from donors, reminding your loved one that people want to help. You might even receive support from strangers around the globe, and that in itself is life-affirming. Give the gift of life to a loved one in need—start fundraising for transplant surgery.