14,280 Black patients moved up transplant waitlist after race scrubbed from criteria

Roughly 14,280 Black kidney transplant candidates moved up the waitlist after race was eliminated from the candidate criteria, ABC News reported April 22.

To calculate a person's location on the waitlist, an algorithm uses metrics such as kidney function, age, sex, body weight and race. The inclusion of race was based on outdated assumptions that Black patients had differences in kidney function compared to other groups, according to the report. The race-based score may have kept Black patients lower on the waitlist.

In 2020, the National Kidney Foundation and American Society of Nephrology established a task force to reassess how race is used when diagnosing patients with kidney-related illnesses. The final report declared that race variables should not be applied to kidney transplant candidates.

The recommendation was implemented by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. In January 2023, the system evaluated kidney disease changes, eliminating race as a factor. More than 14,000 Black kidney transplant patients found themselves moving up the waitlist between 2023 and mid-March 2024. Of that group, nearly 3,000 have since received a kidney transplant.

A new mandate is also in the works to omit race from calculations for kidney donor allocations. OPTN will vote on the change in June.

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