President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday which details a plan for the future of care for people living with chronic kidney and end-stage renal diseases. The plan is aimed at benefiting both patients and donors.
"It's just not on the top of people's minds," Michael Kaltenmark said. "A lot of people are walking around with two healthy kidneys. They don't realize that they can get rid of one of them and still be completely fine."
Kaltenmark, Butler University's mascot handler, went on the donor list in December after his medication for Crohn's disease damaged his kidneys.
"If I get a living donor to come forward and give me a kidney, I can make it 10, 15, 20, who knows how long before I would need another one," Kaltenmark said.
Kaltenmark is one of around 100,000 people waiting for a new kidney. He has had matches identified. But, each year, only about 20,000 people end up getting a new kidney.
The executive order signed on Wednesday would reimburse living donors for lost wages and child care which the president hopes will entice people to sign up.
"People will begin donating organs in greater numbers, and we will have fewer people dying because they are waiting in line for an organ," U.S. Senator Todd Young said.
The president's order also reduces the amount of people who would go to dialysis centers to receive care, and instead get in-home dialysis.
"They have to have transportation to get there, spend time there which is time away from work, time away from family," Kaltenmark said of the burden on a person.
Another portion of the executive order emphasizes developing an artificial kidney. Young said the president committed his team to making that a priority.
If someone is interested in joining the donor list, visit iuhealth.org/find-medical-services/living-kidney-donation. You can also go to St. Vincent's website at stvincent.donorscreen.org/register/donate-kidney.