TUESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The reversal of a kidney allocation policy has improved black patients' chances of receiving a new organ from a deceased donor, U.S. researchers say.
Until 2003, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) gave priority to potential recipients who had a genetic match with the deceased donor in terms of HLA-B, an antigen involved in the body's immune response to foreign tissue. HLA-B similarity tends to be race-based.
But this policy, combined with a higher number of white donors, meant that white patients were much more likely than blacks to receive deceased donor kidney transplants (DDKT).
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researchers examined data from nearly 179,000 patients on the kidney transplant list and found that blacks were 37 percent less likely than whites to receive a DDKT before the policy reversal in 2003, compared with 23 percent less likely after the change.
The study is published in the November issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.
While the gap between blacks and whites has narrowed, a significant disparity remains and is likely due to factors involving patients and caregivers, the researchers noted.