Minorities are at an additional disadvantage because the best matches for organ donation are family members or people in the same ethnic group, and most donors are white, Florman said. Minority group family members often have the same health problems that cause a patient's kidney disease, he noted.
The real problem is "there aren't enough kidneys" to meet patients' needs, said Florman. He called for more education to get people "to sign the back of their driver's license," a common way to donate organs.
About 7,000 kidneys are donated each year, a number that "stays flat, as the demand grows exponentially," as the population ages, Florman said. "Right now there are over 110,000 people waiting for a kidney, and most will never get one."
For more on kidney transplants, go to the National Kidney Foundation.
SOURCES: Yoshio N. Hall, M.D., professor, medicine, and researcher, Kidney Research Institute, department of medicine, University of Washington, Seattle; Sander Florman, M.D., professor, surgery, and director, Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York City; March 3, 2011, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, online
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