Racial disparities in kidney transplant outcomes are shrinking, new research indicates.
Previous studies had shown that black patients who received kidney transplants had worse outcomes compared with white patients. But a new analysis of roughly 200,000 kidney transplants revealed that the success of surgeries involving black people improved between 1990 and 2012, with fewer organ rejections and deaths among these patients.
The study authors compared information on almost 64,000 black and more than 145,400 white adults who received a kidney from a living or deceased donor.
The findings were published online Feb. 4 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
“We hypothesized that advances in immunosuppression and post-transplant management might differentially benefit black kidney transplant recipients, who were disproportionately burdened by immunological barriers, and contribute to reduced racial disparities in kidney transplant outcomes,” study author Tanjala Purnell said in a journal news release.
Over the course of the study, five-year failure rates of the kidneys transplanted from deceased donors fell from just over 51 percent to slightly less than 31 percent for blacks. Failure rates also dropped among white patients from slightly more than 37 percent to 25 percent, the findings showed.
Meanwhile, five-year failure of kidneys transplanted from living donors fell from over 37 percent to 22 percent among blacks, and from almost 21 percent to about 14 percent among whites, the investigators found.
Around two decades ago, blacks who underwent a deceased-donor kidney transplant were 39 percent more likely than whites to experience five-year failure. The researchers found, however, this gap had narrowed to 10 percent by 2012.
In addition, blacks who received a living-donor kidney transplant in 1990 were 53 percent more likely than whites to experience five-year failure. By 2012, this disparity had fallen to 37 percent.
“Our research demonstrates a dramatic improvement in kidney transplant outcomes for black patients and a significant reduction in the disparity in kidney transplant outcomes between black and white patients,” said Purnell, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about kidney transplants.