OLYMPIA — The 86,000 patients in Washington with kidney disease now have a greater hope of someday receiving a transplant—the only lifesaving treatment—under a bill signed into law today.

“Organ donors who give the gift of new life to another person should not be punished by higher premiums for their health or life insurance,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), the bill’s sponsor.

SB 5003 makes it easier for people to donate a kidney or other organ by prohibiting insurance carriers from discriminating against living organ donors. Currently, discrimination in coverage and premiums by health, life, disability, or long-term care insurance companies can present a barrier for potential donors.

There are 1,800 Washingtonians waiting for a transplant. Over the past decade, more than 2,900 Washingtonians have been living kidney donors.

In addition to transforming the life of the kidney patient, a transplant is a boon to society. The cost of a transplant is lower than long-term kidney dialysis and gives the transplant recipient a greater ability to remain in, or return to, the workforce.

“On behalf of the 37 million kidney patients nationwide we represent, we commend Sen. Keiser, the Washington State legislature and Gov. Inslee for enacting these critical protections for living organ donors,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. “Making it easier for people to donate an organ will ultimately shorten the transplant waiting list for everyone and save lives.”

SB 5003 will go into effect on July 25.