14K Black Patients Moved Up On Kidney Transplant List As Race No Longer Considered

A groundbreaking change in kidney transplant evaluations has removed a long-standing barrier for Black patients in need of a new kidney. Previously, the eGFR test used for kidney transplant waitlist evaluations included race as a factor, based on outdated studies that inaccurately showed differences in kidney function among racial groups. However, in 2020, the National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology determined that race has no connection to kidney function. As a result, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network updated its policies in 2023, removing race as a consideration in kidney evaluations. This change has led to over 14,000 Black kidney transplant candidates moving up the waitlist, with nearly 3,000 already receiving a transplant.

One patient who benefited from this policy change is Jazmin Evans, who was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2012. Despite being placed on dialysis and waiting for a transplant, Evans felt hopeless about her chances due to the previous eGFR calculations inaccurately measuring her kidney function as higher than it was based on her race. After transplant centers started re-running calculations, Evans discovered that she should have been a candidate in 2015. By July 2023, she received a kidney transplant.

While this change in kidney evaluations is a significant step forward, there is still work to be done for racial equity in the overall kidney transplant system. Race bias remains a factor in the kidney donor profile index, and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network will vote in June 2024 on whether to exclude race in donor eligibility.

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