Grandmother's kidney donation gives family voucher for child's transplant

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Every month, about 3,000 new people are placed on the kidney transplant list. However, 13 people die each day waiting for their transplant.

Now, a new national program is helping people get their transplant faster with the help of a complete stranger.

Three-year-olds Adele and Aubrey may be twins, but they couldn't be more different from each other.

A big difference between the two. Aubrey has two kidneys, while Adele, also known as Delly, has one. When Delly was born, she was diagnosed with multicystic kidney disease.

"She immediately went into renal failure," said Jamie McNeil, the girls' grandmother.

Delly is doing well now with her kidney function at 78 percent, but that may not last.

"At this point, it's looking like she will need a kidney transplant within the next 10 years or so," said Meghann Adams, the girls' mother.

But when she does need her transplant, she will be transferred to the living kidney donor list. All thanks to her grandmother donating her kidney to a complete stranger.

Through the National Kidney Registry's donor voucher program, a donor can donate a kidney now and get a voucher for an intended recipient for a later living donor transplant.

"Those time frames are significantly shorter than you would have to wait for a deceased donor kidney," Emory University Medical School Dr. Nicole Turgeon said. "Deceased donor kidneys, you can wait anywhere from a couple of years all the way up to eight to 10 years."

Just one living donor taking part in this voucher program can help more than 100 people on the transplant list.

"If I can inspire just three people to donate a kidney, and those three people can inspire three more people, and those three people can inspire three more people – if we did that just 11 times over, we could wipe out the whole kidney list," McNeil said.

McNeil's kidney donation started off a chain that impacted eight people with four kidney transplants. But now, she also has that safety net for her granddaughter for whenever she will need her kidney.

McNeil was the first to take part in the kidney voucher program at Emory University. The longest chain to take place there involved 62 transplants.

For more information about the kidney voucher program, visit

REPORT: MB #4579

BACKGROUND: As of 2016, there were over 121,500 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. Over 100,500 of these patients were waiting for kidney transplants. This is a really high number, especially considering that over 3,000 new patients get added to the waiting list for kidney transplant each month. The average wait time for a patient's first kidney transplant is 3.6 years and can vary depending on how healthy the person is and how compatible they are to the organs that are available. However, on average, 13 people die while waiting for their transplant. Even though a large number of patients died, 17,107 kidney transplants took place that year. 11,570 of these transplants came from deceased donors, while 5,537 came from living donors. (Source:

PREVENTION: One in three American adults is at risk for kidney disease, which is why it is important that you know how to prevent it. Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, being 60 or older, and having a family history of kidney failure. Your kidney failure could go unnoticed until it is advanced because it has no symptoms. However, a urine test or a blood test can easily detect kidney disease. In addition, The National Kidney Foundation has the following dietary guidelines to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease: reduce sodium intake, limit red meat, avoid soda, give up processed foods, and reduce sugar intake. (Source: and

KIDNEY DONOR VOUCHER: Acceptable organ donors can range in age from newborns to 65 years or more. The Kidney Voucher Program allows you to write a list of five people who you would like to donate one of your kidneys to. The vouchers would be for one of the people on that list and once it is used it will negate the use for the other four people. However, if someone on your list needs the kidney but is not compatible, they will receive a compatible kidney, and yours will go towards the list of the person who donated their kidney to your loved one. The advantage of this program is that you can give your kidney and know that someone on your list will potentially receive a living donor kidney in the future. This also allows you to donate your kidney when it is convenient for you and your health and will put you in a priority list should you ever encounter kidney failure with your other kidney. (Source: Nicole Turgeon, MD)