February 23, 2017

UAB to provide paid leave benefits for organ donors

divyank Saini 2Divyank Saini, a UAB lab technologist whose work is vital to match compatible kidney donors and recipients, became Kidney Chain donor No. 57 in March 2016. Read or watch to learn more about his story and UAB’s donor program.UAB has extended its benefits to include paid leave for employees who are living donors for solid organ or bone-marrow transplants, effective March 1.

The new benefit provides four weeks of paid leave to donors of solid organs, such as kidneys and livers, and one week to bone-marrow donors; additional paid leave, if needed for the health of the employee, also may be available through the university’s donated sick-time program, including the new sick-leave pool.

“As home to one of the largest kidney transplant centers in the nation — one that has performed more living donor transplants than any other program in the United States — we believe UAB has an opportunity and the heart to support the patient care mission and the needs of our employees and their families,” said Chief Human Resource Officer Alesia Jones. “This paid donor-leave benefit enables us to do both.”

To be eligible for the paid leave, an employee must have 12 months of service at UAB, worked at least 1,250 hours in that period and must be eligible for leave under the Family Medical Leave Policy. The new leave is a supplement to HR Policy 304 Other Paid Leave.

Why now? Why UAB?

The suggestion for the new leave was made to the UAB Benefits Committee by transplant nephrologist and Professor Robert Gaston, M.D., co-director of UAB’s Comprehensive Transplant Institute. UAB is home to the nation’s longest, continuous living-donor kidney transplant chain, and its surgeons perform an average 300 kidney transplants each year.

We believe UAB has an opportunity and the heart to support the patient care mission and the needs of our employees and their families.

But the waiting list numbers more than 3,000. Consequently, more patients will die while waiting than will receive a transplant, statistics show. One of the best ways to bring more donors into the pool is through its Living Donor Program. UAB is part of two national efforts to increase access to organ transplants and reduce the number of patients on the waiting list that were announced during the 2016 White House Organ Donation Summit.

At this time, neither state nor federal law requires employers to provide leave — paid or unpaid — for organ donors. Alabama is one of only 13 states that does not provide any paid or unpaid leave and/or a tax credit/deduction for state or public employees who are living donors, according to a report prepared by the National Kidney Foundation in October 2016. 

“We hope this is a model policy that other employers throughout the state will consider as a means to help address a critical need for Alabama citizens,” Jones said.