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What if I Want to Donate a Kidney to Someone but I’m Not a Match?

Mimi Mahon

If you have decided to donate a kidney to someone—a family member, friend, or even a specific stranger whose story you found inspiring—it can be devastating to learn that you are not a medical match and are therefore unable to donate your kidney directly to your intended recipient.

The good news is, by donating through the National Kidney Registry’s Voucher Program, you can still donate and help them get a kidney. Even better, your donation will not only help your intended recipient get a kidney, it will help someone else facing kidney failure get a kidney as well, so you’ll be changing the lives of two people instead of just one.

How the Voucher Program Works

If you have been cleared to become a living kidney donor, you can still help your intended recipient by donating through the Voucher Program. Here’s the process you, and your recipient, will go through.

Your Kidney Donation:

  1. You contact an NKR transplant center that participates in the Voucher Program and inform them that you want to donate your kidney through the Voucher Program. You can use the same center where you did your initial testing if it participates in the Voucher Program. Find a participating center here.
  2. You designate your intended recipient as the person who will receive your voucher.
  3. You schedule your donor surgery for a time that is convenient for you and proceed with your kidney donation.

Your Intended Recipient’s Transplant:

  1. When your intended recipient is ready for transplant surgery, they activate the voucher they received as a result of your donation. Once the voucher is activated, the NKR will search its pool of living kidney donors to find the best possible match for them.
  2. Once a match is found, the selected donor will donate their kidney at an NKR center of their choosing and the voucher holder will prepare for the transplant surgery.
  3. The donor kidney will be safely transported to the recipient’s transplant center, and your intended recipient will undergo a kidney transplant.

Donating a kidney to someone is a life-changing gift for both the recipient and the donor, and one that fortunately is no longer limited by donor-recipient incompatibility.

With the Voucher Program, anyone who is medically able and willing to donate a kidney may do so and ensure that their intended recipient gets the best possible living donor kidney for their transplant.

For more information, visit https://www.kidneyregistry.org/for-donors/voucher-program/.

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