New Transplant Policy Breaks Down Racial Barriers

For years, the national organ-allocation policy unintentionally discriminated against minorities.  As available scientific research progressed, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) revisited the way in which organs are matched with recipients.

One of the reasons for transplant disparities was that doctors matched donors’ protein markers with those of recipients. Because protein markers cluster by race and the majority of organ donors are white, minorities were automatically at a disadvantage. Clinicians have since discovered that criteria is no longer necessary. With that restriction lifted, allocated kidneys are not influenced by race.

In a recent article, Jerry McCauley, MD, director of nephrology at Thomas Jefferson University, told Marie McCullough of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “UNOS realized they needed a new allocation system to address the equity issue…It’s been clear for many years that African Americans don’t get transplanted as often as everyone else…I’m happy to say that is no longer true.”

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