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Living Donor Committee Participates in Historic Advocacy Day ASTS

Feb 14, 2024, 16:41 PM by Anna Shults

On a perfect autumn day on October 25, 2023, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) had its first in-person advocacy day in Washington in four years. Coincidentally, it was the same day that the House of Representatives elected a speaker. Significantly, this was also the first year that living donors were a part of this advocacy effort. The newly elected members of the living donor and family advisory subcommittee (LDFAS) were on the Capitol to promote the “Living Donor Protection Act of 2023” and “The OPTN Modernization Act”.

Website Photos and Email Photos Resized (3)In preparation for the day of advocacy, the ASTS sponsored a dinner training session that included remarks the President Elizabeth Pomfret MD, PhD, Executive Director Maggie Kebler-Bullock, and Chair of the Legislative & Regulatory Committee Steven Potter, MD.

President Pomfret welcomed the participation of the living donors and recognized the historic nature of their participation in their first ever advocacy day and stressed the importance of making the effort patient centric. Emily Besser, the ASTS liaison to the Legislative Committee, also echoed the sentiments of the first time ever including patients in the advocacy effort.

The next morning, we were all up bright and early for the day of meeting with the legislative staff of the senators and House of Representatives’ members.

Zipping between the Senate and House Representatives, our delegates and Living Donor Committee collaborated with the Legislative Committee in moving the needle forward.

Living Donor Committee chair Vaughn Whittaker and co-chair Stephanie Yi were joined by LDFAS members Jeff Binder and Chris Perez. This was in collaboration with the Legislative Committee.

Our living and family subcommittee members, Chris Perez, accompanied members ofWebsite Photos and Email Photos Resized (4) the ASTS, and American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) representative met with the legislative assistance to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), Senator Garrett Danielle (R-NC), Representative Alma Adams (D-NC), Representative Marionette Miller-Meeks (R-IA).

Our second LDFAS member, Jeff Binder also participated in some visits along with immediate past Chair of the Living Donor Committee, Amit Mathur, as well as Jerome Bailey (AAKP). They visited the legislative assistant to Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ), Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). It was a busy day that capped a fun-filled and worthwhile effort. Of note, Jennifer Bruns, a member of LDFAS, was there in spirit as her efforts to be there were interrupted by circumstances beyond her control.

Stephanie Yi MD, Vice Chair of the Living Donor Committee, was joined by Drs Tom Peters and Kiran Dhanireddy, both members of the Legislative committee, and Jerome Bailey, representative from AAKP. They met with Representatives from Florida, Texas, and Ohio. Despite the concurrent speaker vote, the group was well received, and the legislative offices seemed supportive of the bipartisan bill.

Chairman of the Living Donor Committee Vaughn Whittaker, MD met with legislative assistant from New York including Congressman Nadler and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer.

The issues that were front and center included lobbying the passage of the living donor protection act HR 2923 which would seek to prevent discrimination of living donors in obtaining life, disability, and supplemental insurance. It would also allow for living donation to qualify for Family Members Leave Act (FMLA). In addition, the OPTN modernization act which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President has a rapid implementation schedule. The ASTS supports the act and seeks to be an active participant in its implementation.

 Finally, after a day of traversing the halls of power, we were able to gather and celebrate a successful day of advocacy at the Dubliner.

Jeff Binder summarized it best by saying “I enjoyed the day very much!"


Contributed by Vaughn Whittaker, MD, Stephanie Yi MD and Ning Duan.