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Kidney voucher program launched and catching on

Written by Diane Archer

Fran Kritz of Kaiser News reports on how a retired Superior Court judge, Howard Broadman, came up with a creative idea for gifting a kidney to his grandson. His vision of a kidney voucher program has been launched and is catching on.

Judge Broadman knew his kidney was a perfect match for his grandson, born with only one only partially functional kidney. But, his grandson did not have an immediate need for a new kidney. So, he found a way to gift his grandson a kidney if and when it was needed. Through the kidney voucher program, he could give his kidney away now in exchange for a voucher entitling his grandson to a kidney at some future date.

The kidney voucher is not a guarantee that there will be a kidney match down the road when his grandson needs it. But, it increases the chances there will be. And, immediately, it helps someone in need of a kidney.

The National Kidney Registry administers the voucher program. And, 30 U.S. hospitals now participate in the program. The voucher can only be used by the person to whom it is given.

The voucher program should not be confused with a kidney chain. A kidney chain helps people who need a kidney urgently. A group of people donate their kidneys to a loved one indirectly. Their kidneys are not perfect matches for their loved ones, so they donate theirs to someone for whom their kidney is a perfect match, and someone else whose kidney is a perfect match donates to their loved one.

Each year 4,500 people die because they can’t obtain a kidney. And, 93,000 people are waiting for a kidney, most of whom are on dialysis.

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