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Blacks in Poor Areas Less Likely to Be On Kidney Transplant Lists

Distance to care not a factor, study finds, urging greater outreach to bridge racial gap

SATURDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Living farther away from transplant centers doesn't explain why black Americans with end-stage renal (kidney) disease are less apt than whites to be placed on the kidney transplant waiting list, researchers say.

A team that analyzed data on end-stage renal (kidney) disease patients in Georgia and the Carolinas from 1998 to 2002 found that black patients in poorer neighborhoods were 56 percent less likely to than whites to be placed on the transplant waiting list.

"This finding warrants further exploration but suggests that racial disparity in the wait-listing process may indeed be a reflection of differential access to health care," study co-author Dr. Sandra Amaral, of Emory University in Atlanta, said in a prepared statement.

Of the almost 12,600 patients (62 percent of them black) included in the study, 17 percent were placed on the kidney transplant waiting list during the study period. Black patients were more likely than whites (27 percent versus 9 percent) to live in areas where more than 25 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.

The researchers had hypothesized that patients who lived farther from transplant centers would be less likely to be placed on the kidney transplant waiting list. But they found that distance to the transplant center didn't have a major impact on the likelihood of being placed on the list. They did find that black patients living in poorer neighborhoods were 56 percent less likely than whites to make it on the list.

"Racial disparities persist in the U.S. transplantation process," Amaral said. "The reasons for this are poorly understood, but multiple factors are likely involved."

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the impact of community poverty on racial disparity in transplant wait-listing. It also introduces a potential new approach to addressing the disparities: reaching out to poorer communities with advocacy and education," she said.

The study was scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting, in San Francisco.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidney transplantation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Nov. 4, 2007

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