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UCLA Kidney Donation Program: ‘Vouchers’ for Future Transplants

By: Susan Reckling
Posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

An innovative “voucher” program, which allows living donors to donate a kidney that only a specified recipient may redeem later when needed, has triggered 25 transplants through kidney-paired donation across the United States. Jeffrey L. Veale, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and colleagues created this novel system to overcome “chronologic incompatibility” between living donors and recipients.

“Some potential kidney donors are incompatible with their intended recipient based on blood type; others may be incompatible based on time,” explained Dr. Veale in a UCLA press release.

The investigators presented the findings of their first three voucher cases in Transplantation. In these cases, advancing age may have otherwise deprived the donors of the opportunity to provide a kidney to a family member. These 3 vouchers, which functioned in a nonrandomized fashion, resulted in 25 transplants through kidney-paired donation across the United States.

This is how the program works. The voucher donor gives a kidney to a stranger on dialysis. Then a friend or family member of that person donates a kidney to another stranger, launching many transplant “chains” that mix and match incompatible recipient/donor pairs with compatible ones. Although the voucher recipient is not guaranteed a kidney, he or she would receive priority in being matched with a donor from the end of a future transplant chain.