Higher Health Risks for Blacks Who Donate Kidney

Gene Emery, MSNBC, August 18, 2010

Blacks who donate one of their kidneys have a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease compared to white donors, doctors reported on Wednesday.

The findings in the New England Journal of Medicine mean doctors need to pay more attention to the health of donors, said the team, led by Dr. Krista Lentine of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“We are not proposing any change to donor selection policy based on these data, and do not believe that race and ethnicity should be used to discourage anyone from stepping forward for potential donor evaluation,” she said in a e-mail.

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The average waiting time for a kidney is 1,121 days, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. More than 91,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney and non-whites are less likely to get a good match for transplant.

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Compared to whites, black donors were 52 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, and more than twice as likely to develop chronic kidney disease or diabetes requiring drug therapy.

But such problems are already more common in the black community for a variety of possible reasons, such as having less access to health care.

Blacks make up 34 percent of the people awaiting a kidney transplant, Lentine said.

The risks were similar for Hispanic donors, who make up 18 percent of the population who need a donated kidney, the researchers said.

[“Racial Variation in Medical Outcomes among Living Kidney Donors,” by Krista L. Lentine, et al. can be read here. There is a charge.]

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