Racial Bias Rooted In Kidney Transplantation: Long-Waiting Black Patients Now Prioritized – Findings Reveal

The U.S. organ transplant network has mandated that hospitals and care facilities use race-neutral test results when adding new patients to the kidney transplant waiting list. This policy shift comes after it was discovered that a widely-used test overestimated the kidney function of Black patients, delaying their access to proper evaluation for a kidney transplant. The National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology have also advised laboratories to transition to race-neutral equations when calculating kidney function. As a result of these changes, over 14,300 Black candidates had their wait times recalibrated between January 2023 and mid-March 2024, leading to more than 2,800 successful transplants.

Dr. Nwamaka Eneanya, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, has been a vocal advocate for removing race from medical equations and highlighted the lack of biological differences between races. She emphasized the detrimental impact of race-based equations on clinical decisions, particularly in assessing renal function. Dr. Eneanya is working on revising formal reporting guidelines to exclude racial bias in the calculation of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a frontline test for kidney function. She stressed the need for reformative measures to ensure equitable healthcare access for all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity.

This revelation of racial bias within the kidney transplantation system has sparked calls for change and highlights the ongoing issue of racism in healthcare. Many clinicians continue to rely on outdated practices that perpetuate harm to Black patients, leading to disparities in care and access to life-saving procedures. Efforts are being made to promote diversity and inclusion within the medical field and address racial disparities in kidney disease awareness and screening. The goal is to create a healthcare system that operates with an equity lens and removes racial bias from medical equations.


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