While it may be common knowledge that Blacks suffer from a higher rate of kidney disease—including ESRD (i.e., end-stage renal disease)—what many people may not know is that it takes longer for Blacks to get a kidney transplant when they need one, compared to whites. What makes Blacks more likely to need a transplant, and why does it take longer to get one?
What Do the Statistics Say?
Although Black people comprise only 12 percent of the population in the United States, they make up over 30 percent of those treated for a condition called end-stage renal (kidney) disease (ESRD). Having ESRD means that a person’s kidneys are not functioning properly and kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed. It’s important to note that the primary causes of ESRD include diabetes and high blood pressure. Other related statistics, reported by the National Kidney Foundation include:
- 20% of Blacks do not have health insurance
- Blacks are less likely to receive referrals to specialists who conduct a pre-transplant evaluation
- Blacks are 4 times more likely than white Americans to have kidney failure
- 13.2% of Black adults have been diagnosed with diabetes
- High blood pressure occurs in 1 out of 3 Blacks (one of the highest rates worldwide)
- Many Blacks may be unaware that untreated high blood pressure can lead to kidney disease
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African Americans and Kidney Disease
Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) increase the risk of severe kidney disease. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black American adults are 70 percent more likely than whites to have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Another factor that impacts racial disparities between Black and white rates of kidney disease is high blood pressure, which occurs in approximately 33 percent of the Black population and 20 percent in whites.
Blacks are also known to have a higher rate of inadequate healthcare assess, and their high blood pressure is more likely left untreated. Other factors, such as diet, urban living, stress and poverty also contribute to an increased rate of kidney disease in Black Americans.
When getting a kidney transplant, Blacks are known to have poor outcomes from longer wait times as well as a higher rate of kidney rejection.
RELATED: 7 Ways Low Blood Pressure Prevents Kidney Disease
How Long Do Blacks Wait for a Kidney Transplant vs. Whites
Getting on the national transplant waiting list is the first step in receiving a transplant for most people. Almost everyone who doesn’t have a living donor (i.e., a family member) option, and even some who do, must wait for some time to get a kidney transplant. This is due to a shortage of organs to meet the needs of those requiring a kidney transplant.