Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Family matters, especially when it comes to African-Americans and living kidney donation
In a study, researchers found that African-Americans donate almost exclusively to family members for living kidney transplants, as compared to whites. The retrospective study compared medical records of all former successful kidney donors at Wake Forest Baptist between Jan. 1, 1991, and Dec. 31, 2009. The purpose of the study was to characterize differences in donor and recipient relationships between African-American and white living kidney donors. "African-Americans are overrepresented in the dialysis population and they are underrepresented among those who receive living donor kidney transplants, the best option for long-term treatment of kidney disease," said Amber Reeves-Daniel, D.O., lead author of the study and medical director of the Living Kidney Donor Program at Wake Forest Baptist. "The more we can understand what contributes to people's willingness to donate one of their kidneys, the better job we can do of educating potential living donors about the need and allay fears about the risks." The study sample consisted of 73 African-American and 324 white living kidney donors. African-American donors were more likely to be related to the transplant recipient than whites. Individuals were considered to have a familial relationship if a blood relation existed or if there was a familial relationship, including in-law relationships. In addition, the study found that African-American donors were more likely to donate to their parents compared to whites, and were slightly less likely to participate in parent-to-child donation. By comparison, white donors were more likely to be unrelated to the recipient than African-American donors. Reeves-Daniel said one of the most surprising findings was that the majority of African-American kidney donors were men and younger than the white donors. "Adult African-American dialysis patients are typically younger than white dialysis patients and this may explain, in part, why African-American children are more often able to donate to their parents," she said.