It’s a well-established fact that African-Americans have higher rates of hypertension than their white counterparts. And with that hypertension comes kidney problems. Yet despite the fact that Blacks are disproportionately impacted by kidney diseases—including outright kidney failure—it turns out that kidney transplants to Black patients remain dangerously low. But you can help change that.
According to a new study of the 57,000 kidney transplants that took place in America from 2000 to 2009, Black patients received kidneys from deceased donors 19 percent less than their white counterparts. And from 2003 to 2009, the transplantation rate among Black patients was 23 percent less than it was in white patients. This disparity exists even though the medical community has made concerted efforts to close the gap, most recently relaxing donor-recipient matching requirements. “Before May 2003, U.S. kidney allocation procedures gave priority to recipients who matched for more of the six HLA loci, a policy that improved transplantation outcomes but decreased the number of nonwhite recipients who received organs,” says Internal Medicine News.
Because Blacks can’t get kidneys donated at the same rate as whites, they are four times as often forced to go through years and years of dialysis procedures, which can be expensive, tiresome, and draining.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. As a former kidney donor myself—I gave to my father in 2008—I can say with certainty that the Black community working together can help end the scourge of kidney problems it suffers. My procedure took about an hour and I was out of the hospital in four days with a minimal amount of pain. Now, three years later, I don’t suffer a single side-effect, save for a cool, tough-looking scar.
I can’t recommend this enough: If someone you know and love is in dire need of a kidney, you have the power to help them. Go get tested and see if you’d make a good donor. Because it sounds as if the bureaucratic agencies operating kidney donations is doing a poor job of fairly allocating the organs, let’s take it upon ourselves to get the community healthy. Self reliance is a beautiful thing.
(Photo: Commercial Appeal/Landov)