Language and cultural barriers contributed to transplant delays for Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, the study found.
Patients' medical, economic and social situations are evaluated and if they have other serious diseases or insufficient social support, they are unlikely to be deemed a suitable candidate for an organ, Hall noted.
Once on the waiting list, donor matching, based on blood type and other measures of compatibility to prevent the body from rejecting the organ, "plays a central role" in having a transplant performed, Hall added.
The study analyzed records of more than half a million people who began kidney dialysis between 1995 and 2006, obtained from the U.S. Renal Data System registry and the United Network for Organ Sharing Kidney Wait List.
U.S. Census Bureau data was used to determine patients' residence in high poverty locations, and areas where language barriers and cultural isolation exist.
The study called for changing the formula used to allocate donated kidneys, to help reduce the racial and ethnic disparities that were found.
Another major factor affecting kidney transplant availability is geographic location. The United States has 11 regions overseen by the United Network for Organ Sharing, and donated kidneys are almost always kept within the region of origin.
A New York City kidney transplant surgeon said the regional divisions pose major problems in places like New York or San Francisco that have long waiting periods.
"This is a huge pet peeve for us," said Dr. Sander Florman, director of the Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "It's completely unfair." Noting that kidneys can last more than 36 hours when kept cold,
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