Black patients ‘less likely to have successful kidney transplants’ than white people

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Analysis found that organs obtained from white donors have a better success rate when given to a person of a different ethnicity than other organs - Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images
Analysis found that organs obtained from white donors have a better success rate when given to a person of a different ethnicity than other organs - Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Black and Asian people are less likely to have a successful kidney transplant than their white peers, a study has found.

Doctors at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds analysed more than 20,000 kidney transplants in which they knew the ethnicity of both the donor and recipient.

They found that four out of five white people, 81 per cent, who got a kidney from a white donor were still healthy seven years later and the organ was working correctly.

However, this figure dropped to 70.6 per cent for Asian donors and patients, and 69.2 per cent for black-to-black transplants.

Analysis also found that organs obtained from white donors have a better success rate when given to a person of a different ethnicity than other organs.

For example, a kidney from a deceased white person is still functioning perfectly after seven years 80.5 per cent of the time, irrespective of the recipient’s ethnicity.

Lack of donors from ethnic minorities

However, the success rate is 71.9 and 74 per cent for Asian and black donors, respectively.

Abdul Rahman Hakeem, a consultant hepatobiliary and transplant surgeon in Leeds, and the lead author of the new study, said the issue is that black, Asian and ethnic minority individuals have worse odds of finding a match in the first place.

A dearth of donors from ethnic minorities means many individuals have to wait longer for a suitable transplant, often twice as long as white patients, due to the abundance of white donors and a lack of donors from different backgrounds.

This, Mr Hakeem said, means the patient is often on dialysis for longer and therefore sicker than their white counterparts when they have the operation, reducing the likelihood of success and a full recovery.

“The longer wait for a donor kidney is due to a shortage of grafts from ethnic minority patients,” Mr Hakeem said.

“In our study, Asian people make up 12.4 per cent of deceased donor recipients and black people 6.7 per cent of recipients, yet Asian people account for 1.6 per cent of all donors and black people 1.2 per cent of donors.

“Increased deceased donation among ethnic minority communities would benefit the entire recipient pool by increasing the numbers of available organs and may specifically benefit the Asian and black recipients.”

The results were presented at the recent European Society for Organ Transplantation Congress 2021.

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