This month, which also happens to be National Donate Life Month and National Minority Health Awareness Month, authors from Yale published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about continued disparities in access to kidney transplant. Those who are likely to suffer from the described disparities were African Americans and Hispanics. Through their analyses, the authors find that these ethnic groups are at risk because of immunologic differences and because of increased likelihood to remain inactive on the wait list once they are made inactive for various reasons.
As the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois is centered in a city whose majority are these ethnic minorities, we strongly feel the call to address the results of this paper. It is our mission to do what we can to ensure these patients have education about kidney disease, equal access to transplant, and that these disparities are tackled until they are gone.
While the issues of inactivity on the wait list are mostly at the transplant center level, and are not issues that the NKFI can directly affect, we implore our neighboring and partnering transplant centers to look inward at their processes to identify practices that may contribute to disparities such as these.
The paper identifies that highly sensitized patients (those with high cPRA) are most likely to suffer from unequal access. This emphasizes the need for more minorities to be registered donors. The more diverse the donor pool, particularly with donors from similar racial backgrounds that may be more likely to be an immunologic match, the better the chances are for highly sensitized patients to be transplanted.
As stated above, this month is a significant month of awareness, as it is National Donate Life Month and National Minority Health Awareness Month. The NKFI stands behind the great efforts of the Illinois Secretary of State office and Gift of Hope to increase awareness for organ donation in ethnic minority communities, and issues a call to action to our transplant centers and our community to continue work together to improve equity in access to transplant for all.
Special thanks to Dr. Dinee Simpson for assisting the NKFI with this statement.
For further reading, see WSHU's article "The Wait for a Kidney Can Be A Lot Longer If You're Not White."