Right now there are more than 100-thousand people waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. Eight out of 10 are waiting on a kidney.
It is by far the organ most in-demand - and now there is an innovative new approach to help meet that demand. Living donors can donate a kidney to someone in need today and in return, get a voucher for a loved one to use in the future should they ever need a kidney.
Like any good grandpa, Howard Broadman wants to give his grandson, Quinn — the world.
What Quinn needs is a kidney. He was born with only one.
"For me, it was pretty simple. We've got to fix this. This is a problem,” said Broadman.
But there wasn't much Howard could do. Quinn is too young to need a transplant now, and by the time he does, 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?'" said Broadman.
So that's exactly what he did.
At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical center, Howard and Dr. Jeffrey Veale worked out a deal that could change 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 10,15 years, the recipient just draws one out of the pool, and it's a beautiful thing. I mean, this has never happened before,” said Dr. Veale.
But luckily 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.
Nine institutions across the country have already agreed to join the program.
"A living donor kidney functions for 20 years on average. Where a deceased donor kidney functions for 10 to 12 year on average. So, you're giving high-quality kidneys that function longer, and you're taking more people off the deceased donor waitlist,” said Dr. Veale.
Every day 13 people in the U.S. die waiting for a kidney transplant. This program could change that.
And it all started 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 list to the top of the list and I changed my grandson's life, and I may not even be here," said Broadman. "It doesn't get much better than that,”
Doctors say if just one half of one percent of adults became living donors, we could wipe out the kidney waiting list 15 times over.
If you want more information on how you could donate a kidney and get a voucher for a loved one in the future, log on to transplants.ucla.edu.