Resources for HR Professionals

Why Join the Circle of Excellence?

More than 100,000 people are waiting for a life-saving kidney or liver transplant. Living donors account for approximately 20% of kidney transplants and liver transplants. 

Financial disincentives are a barrier for many potential living organ donors, as living organ donation typically includes a four to six week recovery period and many will use their vacation time or take unpaid absences during this period to donate.

The financial hardships associated with living organ donation still remain to be a major disincentive for many living donors. Although there are initiatives and programs to compensate for some out-of-pocket expenses, most employers haven't established policies to provide coverage for lost wages.

Offering organ donor leave gives your employees the opportunity to save the life of a loved one - or even a stranger. The average employer can offer a policy at a very low cost, as there are only about 4 living donors for every 100,000 employees.

However, by simply implementing a paid organ donor leave policy, employers can demonstrate their support of the unique and critical role that living organ donation plays in our society.

What to Expect When an Employee Donates an Organ

There are several reasons why one of your employees may consider living donation. Many living donors start the process of donation to help a friend or family member, while others may be a social media post or advertisement about a stranger needing a transplant.

If your employee is approved for donation, it is important that they have the support of their employer. Typical leaves of absence are approximately 4 weeks (range is from 2-8 weeks) for a kidney donor, but longer for a living liver donor.

Kidney Donors: Typically, a kidney donor is able to return to work within two to six weeks.

Liver Donors: Typically, a liver donor requires a recovery period of at least six to eight weeks.

Some employers may choose to offer part-time work or lighter duties to accommodate a smooth transition back to work.


To join the AST Circle of Excellence, you must have a policy to support an employee who chooses to be a living donor and/or an employee in need of an organ transplant. Policies do not need be be exclusive to donor leave to qualify.

>> Policies should include salary support for a minimum of 4 weeks

  • Typical leaves of absence are approximately 4 weeks (range is from 2-8 weeks) for a kidney donor, but longer for a liver donor.
  • Durations more than 4 weeks would be supported at the employer's discretion.
  • Additional donor support is at the employer's discretion. Some employers may opt to support travel, lodging, childcare, or other expenses incurred by the donor. Additional information about typical out of pocket expenses incurred by living donors are available in the Financial Toolkit.

>> The minimum proportion of wage support is 80% - companies may elect to support more

  • High earners may not require this level of support.
  • A maximum support cap may be considered at or above $6,000/donor.
  • Maximum payments per company per annum may also be considered.
  • Alternate to a separate donor leave policy, a company may elect to ensure any existing short-term and/or long-term leave provisions include recovery time from donor surgery.
  • How a company provides this level of support, i.e., through new or existing HR policies, may vary, and is not directed by the American Society of Transplantation.

>> Annual confirmation of support and reporting of activity to the American Society of Transplantation

  • Companies are recognized on policy implementation only; a company may not have a donor to support for many years.
  • Typically, there are 6,000 living kidney donors in the US and Canada annually, or about 3.5/100,000 employed persons.
  • Assuming a median salary of $60,000 per year, minimum support for a donor for 4 weeks at 80% coverage is only $4,000.
Need more help?

Check out our HR templates to get started.

Learn more about the benefits of creating a policy and joining the Living Donor Circle of Excellence.


Is there a cost to join the Living Donor Circle of Excellence?

No, joining the Circle of Excellence is completely free!

What are the requirements to join The Circle?

Salary support for a minimum of 4 weeks at 80% of salary are the minimum policy requirements. Companies will need to complete an application and submit their policy (never shared) and logo to become a Circle of Excellence member.

What are the benefits of joining the Circle of Excellence?

There are many societal, business, and marketing reasons to implement a policy and join the Circle of Excellence. Learn more here.

How common is living donation?

In 2021, there were over 6,500 living donations in the United States. For every 100,000 employed people in the U.S. and Canada, about 3.5 people become a living donor.

Get Started

Request information or submit your application to join the AST Circle of Excellence.