Racial and ethnic disparities in kidney transplantation


  • Conflicts of Interest
    The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

Sayeed Khan Malek MD, FACS, Division of Transplant Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Tel.: +1 617 7326446; fax: +1 617 5826167; e-mail: smalek@partners.org


Success of renal transplantation, as a viable alternative to dialysis, has been tempered by long-standing racial disparities. Ethnic minorities have less access to transplantation, are less likely to be listed for transplantation, and experience a higher rate of graft failure. Reasons for the existing racial disparities at various stages of the transplantation process are complex and multi-factorial. They include a combination of behavioral, social, environmental, and occupational factors, as well as potential intended or unintended discrimination within the healthcare system. Immunologic factors such as human leukocyte antigen matching, composition of the organ donor pool, and patient immune response, all of which affect post-transplantation graft rejection rates and patient survival, also contribute to health disparities between ethnic groups.