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Kidney Vouchers Could Eliminate Need For Lengthy Waiting Lists

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There are more than 80,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the U.S.

Now, there's an innovative new approach to help meet that demand.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, living donors can get a kidney voucher for a loved one to use in the future.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, when grandson Quinn was born with kidney problems, Howard Broadman desperately wanted to help, but there wasn't much he could do. Quinn is too young to need a transplant now, and by the time he needs one Howard will be too old.

"Then I said, 'well wait a minute, this doesn't make any sense. Why don't I just give my kidney to somebody else, and just get a voucher and give it to Quinn?" he said.

That's exactly what he did. At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Howard and Dr. Jeffrey Veale worked out a deal that could transform the donation process -- donate a kidney now and a loved one gets a voucher for a kidney in the future.

"They donate a kidney now because it's a good time for the donor. It's not a good time for the recipient, because the recipient doesn't need it, and then in 10 to 15 years, the recipient just draws one out of the pool, and its a beautiful thing. I mean, this has never happened before," Dr. Veale said.

And it will happen again. The ethics committee of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons has officially endorsed the voucher program and it's gone to their executive committee for approval. There are nine institutions across the country that have already agreed to join the program including New York Presbyterian- Weill Cornell in New York.

Every day thirteen people in the U.S. die waiting for a kidney transplant, but this program could change that.

"For the first time in history we can actually start reducing the waiting list," Dr. Veale said.

Starting with one little boy and his loving grandfather in southern California.

"I've left a legacy of putting him from, perhaps at the bottom of the lift to the top of the list and I changed my grandson's life, and I may not even be here. It doesn't get much better than that," Broadman said.

Doctors said if just one half of one percent of adults became living donors, we could wipe out the kidney waiting list 15 times over.

A living donor kidney functions for 20 years on average, almost twice as long as a kidney from a deceased donor.


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