Matching Gifts Help End the Wait

Donor Lora on left
Recipient Dee on right

by Lora Wilson, Living Donor
As a non-directed donor, I was told that my kidney was a match for a 71 year-old woman from New Jersey. I imagined a lonely widow who perhaps had an adult child with health issues that prohibited living donation. After surgery, I was surprised to learn that my recipient, Dee, came from a very large family afflicted by genetic kidney disease in multiple generations.

I had expected to help only one person, but quickly learned that my gift had helped many by giving them back their mother and grandmother. We all want our gifts to have the largest possible impact. One of the goals of NKF's End the Wait! Initiative, is to maximize the impact of each donation through a nationwide paired exchange program.

For kidney donations, the concept of matching gifts takes on a new meaning through paired exchange networks that allow a single non-directed donor to magnify the effect of their gift by two, four or even eight times. NKF's End the Wait! Initiative seeks to multiply the number of living donor transplants by establishing a nationwide paired exchange network.

Through paired exchange, transplant centers collaborate with one another to help mismatched pairs of donors and recipients find the perfectly matched stranger, triggering a series of "domino" transplants. A non-directed "altruistic" donor usually acts as the catalyst, providing the initial push to make the dominos fall. Donors in these exchanges open their minds and hearts to the idea of giving a kidney to a stranger to help someone near and dear, thereby ending the wait for their loved ones.