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Someone Has Donated a Kidney on Your Behalf and Given You a Voucher. Now What?

Samantha Hil, Vice President, Marketing, Microsite Project Manager

If someone wants to donate their kidney to you but they are not a match, the National Kidney Registry’s Voucher Program lets them donate their kidney to a matching recipient and give you a voucher, which you can redeem for a living kidney donor transplant with a kidney from a different living donor.

Here’s how the voucher process works for recipients:

  1. The person who wants to donate their kidney to you donates their kidney through an NKR transplant center that participates in the Voucher Program.
  2. They will designate you as the recipient of their voucher.
  3. When you are ready for transplant surgery, you inform your transplant team that you want to redeem your voucher.
  4. Your transplant center will activate you in the NKR system and you will be prioritized for a living donor kidney.
  5. The system immediately starts looking for a matching donor for you from among its pool of prospective donors who have registered with the system but have not yet donated. The NKR has the largest pool of donors in the United States across more than 100 transplant centers across the country.
  6. The NKR uses the latest DNA technology to find the best possible match for you. The better the match, the better the chance the transplant will be successful and the longer the transplanted kidney is likely to last. In addition, with a better match, you may be able to take lower dosages of immunosuppressive medications.
  7. How long it takes to find you a matching kidney depends on several factors, including your blood type, tissue typing, and whether you are sensitized, which means you have developed antibodies against specific human leukocyte antigens (HLA) due to previous exposure to foreign tissue, such as from previous transplants, blood transfusions, or pregnancies. This can complicate the process of finding a compatible kidney for transplantation, as the presence of these antibodies increases the risk of organ rejection. Of the donor-recipient pairs who go through the NKR, more than 90% are matched within four months or less.
  8. When a match is found, you will be notified and you can schedule your transplant surgery.

If you have specific questions about your voucher or your status as a transplant recipient, please contact your transplant team.