Kidney transplant vouchers could address timing issues

REUTERS | Carolyn Crist
(Reuters Health) - - Creating kidney transplant vouchers for future transplants could reduce the long waiting list for organs in the United States, a new study suggests.

In particular, a voucher program could help with “chronological incompatibility,” when the donor wants to provide a kidney but the patient doesn’t need it yet.

“Innovative solutions to increasing living donation are always needed because of the high level of need for living donor kidneys,” said study author Amy Waterman, director of the Transplant Research and Education Center at the University of California at Los Angeles.

More than 100,000 patients are on the waiting list in the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

“Living donors are rare and very valuable for improving the health of recipients,” Waterman told Reuters Health by email. “Strategies to allow more living donors to overcome practical challenges to help another should be supported.”

In a report in the journal Transplantation, Waterman and colleagues described three voucher cases that allowed donors to overcome chronological incompatibility for recipients who didn’t yet need a kidney but might need one in the future. The three cases also triggered a donation chain that allowed 25 transplants to occur across the U.S.

In the first case, a four-year-old with chronic kidney disease was projected to need a renal transplant in 10 to 15 years. His 64-year-old grandfather wanted to donate a kidney when his grandson needed it but didn’t want his candidacy as a donor to disappear as he aged.

The National Kidney Registry Medical Board allowed the grandfather to donate his kidney now for his grandson to receive priority for another kidney in the future when he needed it. The board stipulated that the voucher had no monetary value, could only be used for his grandson, couldn’t be transferred to another patient, and couldn’t guarantee that a kidney would be available. Continue reading
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