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White Patients Most Likely to Get Kidney Transplants: Study
Date:3/4/2011

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- Minorities have a significantly lower chance of getting a kidney transplant than whites do, claims a new study that calls for changes in the formula used to decide who gets which donated organs.

The research, conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle, found that once "waitlisted" for a needed kidney, white patients were 40 percent more likely to receive a transplant than blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others. Lack of health insurance, poverty and cultural barriers were partly to blame for the disparity, the researchers found.

"Unfortunately, the disparities that we describe largely mirror racial or ethnic disparities in general health care in the United States," said study author Dr. Yoshio Hall, a professor of medicine and a researcher at the Kidney Research Institute in the department of medicine at the University of Washington.

When he worked at a large public hospital, Hall said he saw many poor, non-white, underinsured kidney patients were unable to obtain transplants at all.

Kidney disease is caused by a combination of genetic factors and chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The condition damages the ability of the kidneys to filter toxic substances from the blood, and in the final stage requires treatment with a dialysis machine if a transplant is not performed. Survival rates vary widely, depending on many factors including the donor organ quality and how soon a kidney patient receives it, according to experts.

About 23 million Americans had chronic kidney disease in 2004, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). More than 523,000 U.S. residents were receiving treatment for kidney disease at the end of 2007, mostly on dialysis, NIH data shows.

It took longer for members of minority groups to get on the waiting list for a kidney, most likely "because of socioecono
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