Nearly Half of Kidney Recipients in Living Transplant Chains Are Minorities

Renal Business

LOS ANGELES—The largest U.S. multicenter study of living kidney transplant donor chains showed that 46 percent of recipients are minorities, a finding that allays previous fears that these groups would be disadvantaged by expansion of the donor pool through this type of exchange process.

The study of a series of chain transplantations performed from February 2008 to June 2011 at 57 centers nationwide included 272 kidney transplants that paired organ donors who were incompatible with their relatives with strangers providing organs for altruistic reasons or with others donating an organ to an unknown patient because they were not a match for their own relatives.

“Of all living donor kidney transplants performed in the United States in 2011, only 33 percent were to ethnic minorities. So the fact that nearly 50 percent of the chain transplants were ethnic minorities is a real game changer,” said senior study author and UCLA transplant surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Veale. “This collaborative team has been able to show that with donor chains we can broaden, increase and diversify the population of patients who can receive kidney transplants.”

“We were incredibly happy with the results,” said study first author Dr. Marc Melcher, a transplant surgeon at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and assistant professor of multi-organ transplantation surgery at Stanford University. “It demonstrates that through the cooperation of altruistic strangers we can generate multiple transplants and reduce the competition for deceased organs.”

The study, which appears in the September issue of the peer-reviewed American Journal of Transplantation, notes that the larger percentage of minority recipients may be a result of large urban centers with more ethnic diversity actively participating in chains.

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