Improvements in national kidney transplant policy have evened the rates at which African-American transplant candidates receive kidneys from deceased donors, according to data from United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS serves as the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under federal contract.
National kidney allocation policy has been refined a number of times over the past 25 years to improve equity in transplant access. A recent analysis of the most recent policy, implemented in December 2014, shows progress on many key goals in its first two years of operation.
As of November 30, 2016, African-Americans represented 33.3 percent of candidates listed for a kidney transplant, while 34.5 percent of deceased donor kidney recipients from December 2015 through November 2016 were African-American. The analysis also shows parity in listing and transplant rates among Hispanic and Caucasian candidates.
“The transplant community has striven for many years to close ethnic gaps between people who are listed for a kidney and those receiving them,” said Jerry McCauley, M.D., M.P.H., FACP, immediate past chair of the OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee. “African-Americans are at higher risk for developing end-stage kidney disease than other ethnicities, and thus they’re listed for kidney transplantation at a rate higher than they represent in the U.S. population.
“Minority candidates still face challenges, as they often are not referred for transplant as quickly as others and can take longer to complete their evaluations. Once they are listed, however, the new allocation system provides equal access to transplantation.”