Kidneys Donations Vary by Community

Living donor kidney transplantations less common in African Americans

(RxWiki News) The United States has a long history of racial inequality, unfortunately. While progress towards equality has undoubtedly been made, some racial gaps still exist, particularly when it comes to health care.

Knowing where inequalities exist can help us fix them.

African Americans awaiting a new kidney are less likely to get one, compared to non-African Americans.

In fact, there is a racial gap at every transplant center that performs living donor kidney transplantation in the United States.

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In a recent study, Erin C. Hall, MD, MPH, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and fellow researchers looked at racial differences in living donor kidney transplantation at transplant centers throughout the country.

On average, African Americans get a new kidney from a living donor less often than their non-African American counterparts. Dr. Hall and colleagues wanted to better understand the role that transplant centers play in this racial gap.

They found a racial gap at all 275 transplant centers in the United States.

At transplant centers with the smallest racial gap, African Americans were 35 percent less likely to get a living donor kidney transplant, compared to non-African Americans. At centers with the largest gap, African Americans were 76 percent less likely to get a kidney from a living donor.

Nearly 90,000 Americans are awaiting a lifesaving kidney transplant. Most of these transplants come from donors who have recently died. Kidneys from a living donor, however, tend to function better than those from a deceased donor.

Dr. Hall and colleagues found that transplant centers with the highest overall rates of living donor kidney transplantation had a smaller racial gap than those with lower rates of living donor transplants.

"These high-performing centers might provide insights into policies that might help address this disparity," the authors conclude.

The study involved 247,707 adults registered for first-time kidney transplants from 1995 to 2007.

The results are published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

Review Date: 
June 26, 2012