"Tremendous financial burden": Crowdfunding for organ transplantation costs in Canada

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 20;14(12):e0226686. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226686. eCollection 2019.


Online crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe are used to raise funds for health-related expenses associated with medical conditions such as organ transplantation. By investigating crowdfunding in Canadian organ transplantation, this study aimed to increase understanding of the motivations and outcomes of organ transplantation crowdfunding. Canadian liver and kidney transplantation campaigns posted to GoFundMe between May 30 & 31 2018 were identified and after exclusion, 258 kidney and 171 liver campaigns were included in study. These campaigns were coded for: worthiness of the campaign recipient, requested financial and non-monetary contributions, how monetary donations would be spent, and comments on the Canadian health system, among others. Results suggest Canadian organ donors, transplant candidates, recipients, and their families and caregivers experience significant financial difficulties not addressed by the public health system. Living and medication costs, transportation and relocation expenses, and income loss were the expenses most commonly highlighted by campaigners. Liver campaigns raised nearly half their goal while kidney campaigns received 11.5% of their requested amount. Findings highlight disease burden and the use of crowdfunding as a response to the extraordinary costs associated with organ transplantation. Although crowdfunding reduces some financial burden, it does not do so equitably and raises ethical concerns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Caregivers / economics
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Family
  • Fund Raising / ethics
  • Fund Raising / methods*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Healthcare Financing
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / economics*
  • Liver Transplantation / economics*
  • Tissue Donors
  • Transplant Recipients

Grants and funding

This project was supported in part by funding from the Greenwall Foundation (JS) (https://greenwall.org/). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. There was no additional external funding received for this study.