Racial disparities in reaching the renal transplant waitlist: is geography as important as race?

Clin Transplant. 2015 Jun;29(6):531-8. doi: 10.1111/ctr.12547. Epub 2015 Apr 27.


Background: In the United States, African Americans and whites differ in access to the deceased donor renal transplant waitlist. The extent to which racial disparities in waitlisting differ between United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) regions is understudied.

Methods: The US Renal Data System (USRDS) was linked with US census data to examine time from dialysis initiation to waitlisting for whites (n = 188,410) and African Americans (n = 144,335) using Cox proportional hazards across 11 UNOS regions, adjusting for potentially confounding individual, neighborhood, and state characteristics.

Results: Likelihood of waitlisting varies significantly by UNOS region, overall and by race. Additionally, African Americans face significantly lower likelihood of waitlisting compared to whites in all but two regions (1 and 6). Overall, 39% of African Americans with ESRD reside in Regions 3 and 4--regions with a large racial disparity and where African Americans comprise a large proportion of the ESRD population. In these regions, the African American-white disparity is an important contributor to their overall regional disparity.

Conclusions: Race remains an important factor in time to transplant waitlist in the United States. Race contributes to overall regional disparities; however, the importance of race varies by UNOS region.

Keywords: geographic factors; healthcare disparity; kidney transplant.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Waiting Lists*
  • Whites*
  • Young Adult