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Almost Half of Those Over 60 Die While Waiting for Kidney Transplant
Date:6/18/2009

he waiting list. In 1995, that number was just 22 percent, according to the study. Those over 70 fared even worse, with 52 percent expected to die before receiving a kidney transplant.

The researchers found a wide disparity -- from 6 percent to 81 percent -- in the risk of dying while on the waiting list from region to region. The areas with the lowest death rates while on the waiting list include Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Areas with the highest deaths for people over 60 while on the kidney transplant list include California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

The study also found a racial disparity, with 62 percent of blacks expected to die while waiting for a kidney transplant. Schold said that it can be harder for blacks to find a good matching donor under the current allocation system, and that donations tend to be lower within minority groups. But, he added, these factors are improving.

Other factors that increased the rate of death while on the transplant list included having blood type B or O, having diabetes, or already being on dialysis at the time you're put on the transplant list.

Both Schold and Provenzano said the findings highlight the need to reach out more to living donors, because the need for donated kidneys far exceeds the number of donations obtained from the deceased. Even if your loved one isn't an exact match, it's possible your doctor may be able to find a paired donation in which your willing donor gives his or her kidney to someone else, and that person's loved one gives his or her kidney to you. Recently, some medical centers have created living donor chains that have an even greater potential to increase the number of transplants.

"Be proactive in navigating the steps needed to get a transplant, and consider the center that's in your best interest. You have choices," Schold said.

Provenzano also said it's critical to "take care of yourself. Somet
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