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It’s Like ‘Leave a Penny, Take a Penny’ – Becoming a Living Donor

RM Kidney

Health concerns are no joke, and one of the worst that a person can experience is kidney disease; and sadly the shocking numbers back up that statement. On average, 13 people die every single day in the United States while waiting for a transplant.

 Currently in the US alone, there are over 100,000 names on the kidney waiting list, and with another 30 million people with chronic kidney disease, the risk of that list skyrocketing is a reality. And when we consider that 85% of the people on that list have been waiting since 2016, it begins not to just look like a problem, but more like an epidemic.

On the plus side, last year there were 17,878 kidney transplants in the United States, which is the most for any single year to date – and numbers are still on the rise. However, with the ever growing demand, there simply just isn’t enough supply. That is, until an innovative new program was launched back in 2014 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

This is how it works: if you are eligible to donate a kidney now, you will receive a voucher that a loved one can use to secure a kidney in the future. This program is called Advanced Donation and is coordinated in part through the National Kidney Registry, which has access to a national database to quickly and efficiently match donors with potential recipients.

This voucher idea is the idea of a retired judge name Howard Broadman, whose grandson was born with only one kidney. The judge knew that in all likelihood, the time would come when his grandson would need a kidney but he would be too old to donate. It was from here that the voucher program was born.

This idea was just recently approved by the Ethics Committee of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in June and has been sent to the group’s executive committee for all final approvals.

So far 10 hospital across the country have joined UCLA in honoring this new and exciting voucher program. Will donors currently have to use one of the participating hospitals; it is thought that in the months to come, many more hospital will join the initiative.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “If only one-half of 1% of adults in the U.S. agreed to become living donors, we could rapidly clear the waiting list for kidneys.”