Health Conditions Hub Kidney Disease Transplants

Kidney Transplant Racial Gap Shrinks

Most of the kidneys used in black patients are from deceased donors

The large disparity in kidney transplant rates between blacks and whites in this country has shrunk since the late 1990s, says a new study.

The study analyzed nearly 200,000 kidney failure patients and found that the transplant rate for blacks increased from 93 per 1,000 patients in 1998 to 128 per 1,000 in 2010 and 2011. The 2010-11 rate was the same for whites, a slight decline from 1998.

The improving rate among black patients was “driven wholly by increased rates of transplants from deceased donors,” said Jesse Sammon, M.D., a urologist-researcher at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. In 2011, about 80 percent of the kidney transplants for black patients used kidneys from deceased donors. These organs tend to do worse than those from living donors.

Though the study results are mostly “good news,” there remains a bit of bad news: Younger black kidney failure patients still die at nearly twice the rate of whites, and they are less likely to be placed on the transplant list.

Though researchers say it’s encouraging that once on the transplant list, blacks have good transplant outcomes—something the United Network for Organ Sharing’s kidney committee has been working toward for years—Dr. Sammon told the Associated Press more needs to be done to eliminate racial disparities.

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