Grandmother’s Kidney Donation Secures Kidney Voucher for Granddaughter, Starts Chain of Kidney Transplants

Jamie McNeil is a 56-year-old grandmother of two-year-old twins. As a nurse by trade, she was aware of the benefits of living-kidney donation for needy recipients. But when her twin granddaughters Adele and Aubrey were born two years ago, one was diagnosed with multicystic kidney disease. This was when McNeil began researching how she could play an active role in helping Adele.

Online research brought McNeil to the National Kidney Registry’s (NKR) donor voucher program website. The National Kidney Registry’s (NKR) Donor Voucher Program allows donors to donate their kidney many years before their intended recipient may need a kidney transplant. Voucher recipients receive a “virtual voucher” for a living donor kidney to redeem when and if they may need it, and are registered on the NKR’s inactive list, often for many years. This gave McNeil the chance to help her two-year-old granddaughter Adele, as well as a stranger who was waiting for a match on the paired kidney donor exchange wait list. The paired-donor exchange program is available for recipients who do not have a donor match but who have a donor willing to match with someone else so their loved one can receive a kidney.

“The day I donate my kidney is going to be one of the most significant days of my life,” said McNeil prior to her surgery in September. “It will be one of the best feelings in the world to be able to give the gift of a kidney donation to someone. We must be the change we wish to see in this world and I wish to see more love, so I am going to be that love.”

McNeil, along with the Emory Transplant Center, have together created a safety net for Adele, while also starting a chain of kidney transplants. McNeil is Emory’s first participant in the voucher donor program.

“Jamie is our first patient who has come forward to be a voucher donor,” says Nicole Turgeon, MD, professor of surgery in the department of Surgery, division of Transplantation at Emory. “She immediately let us know that this was for her granddaughter, who does not need a kidney at this time but may need one in the future. Our hope is that she doesn’t need one in the future, but now her granddaughter will have that opportunity to get a living-donor kidney later in life if she needs one, as a result of Jamie’s goodwill.”

With more than 100,000 people waiting for a kidney on the deceased-donor waiting list, living kidney donor programs are making a big difference for patients in need.

McNeil’s surgery was a success, and her kidney donation began a chain of paired-donor kidney exchanges involving eight people, with four kidneys transplanted into grateful recipients.

Emory Living Donor Kidney Program

Emory’s Kidney Transplant Program has a well-established living donor kidney transplant program. To date, we have performed more than 1,300 living donor kidney transplants. We encourage living donation because of the excellent outcomes and the shorter wait times for patients to receive a kidney.

Emory Transplant Center also offers a paired exchange program to donor and recipient pairs who do not match. We work with the National Kidney Registry to locate matching kidneys and exchange with other recipients who have donors who do not match with them.

To learn more about kidney transplant and Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Program, visit or call 855-366-7989.


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