Living kidney donors can prioritize friends, family for future transplant

May 19, 2022
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Tyler Colman knew he wanted to be a kidney donor, especially because the waiting list for those needing a kidney is extremely long – more than 100,000 people nationwide.

Even though there are various stories in the media about kidney donors, “it’s never enough,” he said.

Tyler’s mission to save a life was boosted by his wife, Jessica. As a living donor coordinator for Centura Transplant, she provided plenty of in-home expertise.

This led Tyler to not only proceed with his plans to donate in 2019, but also to become the first in Colorado to donate a kidney through a voucher program though the National Kidney Registry that allows donors to give priority to up to five people – usually loved ones or friends – to receive a kidney should they need one in the future.

Living donor transplants are known to provide better long-term results. However, “a lot of people don’t have that network, so they wait” for a deceased donor, said Dr. Alex Wiseman, Executive Director of Kidney Transplantation for Centura Transplant. “People like Tyler are helping people who don’t have that network.”

Dr. Wiseman says someone who receives a voucher essentially has credit for four years spent on the waiting list. The wait for a deceased donor kidney can range from two to four years for those with type AB blood, but six to seven years for those with type O, the most common type.

Tyler listed Jessica, who has Type 1 diabetes, and their four-year-old son Ryker, as voucher recipients should they need a kidney at some point. Ryker is adopted, making it harder to find a close genetic match if he needs a transplant, and as a diabetic, Jessica is at higher risk of kidney disease.

About his donation, Tyler, who previously had a lower leg amputation, joked, “I was already missing one part, so what’s one more?”

Tyler is glad he donated and says he was only in the hospital a few days and recovered in about two weeks. Best of all, he got the chance to meet the recipient of his kidney.

“To put it lightly, it’s worth it,” Tyler said.

Click here to learn more about Centura Transplant, our personalized care approach for each patient and our nationally recognized team of providers, as well as how to learn more if you may be interested in becoming a donor.

To learn more about the voucher program and the National Kidney Registry, click here.