1. Home
  2. /
  3. Politics
  4. /
  5. Slideshow
  6. /
  7. New Policy Aims to...

New Policy Aims to Rectify Delays in Kidney Transplants for Black Patients

Black individuals face a higher risk of renal failure diagnosis, often leading to delayed transplant referrals, primarily due to an outdated kidney function test.

Late Diagnosis for Black Patients

Credit: DepositPhotos

Black people are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with renal failure compared to white individuals, but delayed diagnoses occur because an antiquated kidney function test tends to overestimate kidney function in Black patients, concealing the severity of their condition.

Scrutiny and Change

Credit: DepositPhotos

This test has faced scrutiny in recent years, leading the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network board to prohibit its use last summer.

In an unprecedented step to rectify racial disparities in kidney transplant access, the board has now approved a waiting time adjustment for Black transplant candidates.

Restorative Justice Project in Medicine

Credit: DepositPhotos

This new policy, effective this month, aims to compensate for the time lost by Black kidney transplant candidates who should have qualified for transplants earlier but were denied due to the test’s misleading results.

Mandating Transplant Programs To Inform Eligible Black Recipients

Credit: DepositPhotos

The policy mandates kidney transplant programs to identify and inform eligible Black candidates who should have qualified earlier, and programs have a year to apply for waiting time adjustments.

Disproportionate Impact on Black Population

Credit: DepositPhotos

Currently, Black and African American individuals make up 35% of the nation’s renal failure patients, despite comprising only 13% of the population.

Approximately 27,500 Black patients are on the kidney transplant waiting list, representing 30% of candidates nationwide.

Long Wait Times

Credit: DepositPhotos

The average wait time for kidney transplants varies across the country but generally ranges from three to five years, as per the National Kidney Foundation.

Running 5 Miles Behind

Credit: DepositPhotos

For Black patients, it’s akin to starting a “marathon” five miles behind, says Dr. Paulo Martins, chair of the transplantation network’s minority affairs committee.

Flawed Test: eGFR

Credit: DepositPhotos

The test at the center of this issue is the estimated glomerular filtration rate test (eGFR), commonly used to assess kidney function.

It measures creatinine, a waste product created by muscle activity in the blood.

Non-biological Factors Affecting Test

Credit: DepositPhotos

The test was developed based on studies involving Black participants who may have had non-biological factors affecting creatinine levels, such as medications or dietary differences.

Systemic Bias in the Test

Credit: DepositPhotos

However, experts argue that this test, which tends to raise kidney function by as much as 16% for Black individuals compared to other racial groups, lacks rigorous scientific evidence to support its assumptions.

This bias has contributed to perpetuating racial disparities in medicine.

Advocating for Transplants

Credit: DepositPhotos

Some Black patients, like Nichole Jefferson, were told they didn’t qualify for kidney transplants due to their kidney function not being low enough according to the eGFR test.

Jefferson even requested to be listed as white to meet the criteria.

Calls for a New Equation

Credit: DepositPhotos

In August 2020, the American Society of Nephrology and the National Kidney Foundation formed a task force to reassess the eGFR equation and its impact.

Dr. Nwamaka Eneanya, a member of the task force, believes that the new policy to adjust transplant times is a crucial step towards rectifying harm caused by the outdated test.

Addressing Broader Inequities

Credit: DepositPhotos

The new policy should be part of a larger effort to tackle disparities in kidney care, says Dr. Dinushika Mohottige.

This includes addressing issues like access to healthcare, insurance, food, and medications that can slow kidney disease progression, among other structural inequalities.

A Beacon of Change

Credit: DepositPhotos

Experts see this new policy as a beacon for addressing inequities in medicine.

It sets an example for correcting past practices and righting the wrongs of race-based algorithms used in the field.

Long Road to Rectifying Racial Disparities

Credit: DepositPhotos

The adjustment in kidney transplant policies aims to rectify racial disparities, offering hope to countless Black patients awaiting life-saving transplants.

Read More From The Stock Dork

Credit: DepositPhotos

Passionate project manager with a knack for crafting engaging and content with a black belt in creativity, powered by coffee.