Despite suffering from kidney disease in greater numbers, fewer blacks than whites receive transplants or survive them, a leading organ transplant group says.
Most donor kidneys, which largely come from whites, are incompatible with blacks because blood types often differ in the two races, according to a report by the American Society of Transplant Physicians.
Blacks also often lack the medical insurance needed to pay for a transplant, hospital costs, medicines and follow-up care, the report said.
The report, issued by seven transplant specialists headed by Dr. Bertram L. Kasiske of the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, is published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.
In the United States, the risk of developing serious, or end-stage, kidney disease is four times higher for blacks than whites, the authors said.
They cited statistics from the government's Health Care Financing Administration showing that blacks accounted for 28 percent of patients with end-stage kidney disease in 1985. Only 21 percent of patients who had kidney transplants that year were black, it said. Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population.
Matching donors and recipients has tremendous impact on recipients' survival, the report said. It is easier to find a correct match when the donor and recipient are related or when they are of the same race. Only 8 percent of organ donors are black, making it difficult to locate enough compatible organs.