Friday, July 30, 2010

Racial disparities found throughout organ transplant process

On a Sunday afternoon last year Larry Studesville received the most important phone call of his life. A young man had died in a tragic accident; did Studesville want his kidney? Studesville, then 62, was at UW Hospital within two hours. "It was another chance at life," he recalls.

A grieving family's gift helped Studesville, whose own kidneys were failing due to hypertension and diabetes, beat grim odds. But other African-Americans have not been so fortunate.

Ever since the first kidney transplant was performed in 1954, there has been a growing chasm between supply and demand when it comes to transplant organs, about 80 percent of which are kidneys. The number of people waiting in the United States for a renal transplant has more than quintupled over the past two decades, from 16,294 in 1989 to 85,473 today. Every day 92 people are added to the national waiting list, and 12 people die waiting. Last year in Wisconsin, 93 people died waiting for a transplant.

The calculus is bleaker for African-Americans. Studesville, a grant administrator with Madison's community development block grant office, was matched with his new kidney only four months after registering for a transplant, but many other African-Americans in Wisconsin and across the country find themselves waiting years longer than white patients for transplants. And many of them face a significantly lower likelihood of ever getting one. A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin Medical School found that African-American patients in Wisconsin were 75 percent less likely than white patients to get a kidney. Other studies and government data document similar disparities across the country. "There is an increasing gap between African-Americans and white patients," says UW nephrologist Byran Becker, one of the study's authors and president of the National Kidney Foundation, an advocacy group for patients. "Our health care system is heading the wrong way, and we should think of how to change that."

Source and More:

Kidney Transplantation: Principles and Practice (Morris,Kidney Transplantation)
Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
Kidney Transplantation: A Guide to the Care of Kidney Transplant Recipients

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