Blacks With Lung Disease More Likely To Die, Be Removed From Organ Transplant List, Study Finds
Blacks with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, who were on a waiting list for lung transplantation between 1995 and 2004 were more likely than white patients to be removed from the list or die before receiving a transplant, according to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Reuters reports.
For the study, David Lederer and colleagues at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons looked at outcomes for 280 black COPD patients and 5,272 white COPD patients on the United Network for Organ Sharing wait list. During the study period, organs were allocated based on wait time; however, since 2005, patients have been prioritized for organs based on their risk of dying before and after transplantation.
According to the study:
- 62% of blacks and 68% of whites received a transplant;
- 17% of blacks and 15% of whites died while awaiting a transplant; and
- 14% of blacks and 9% of whites were removed from the list (Reuters, 2/15).
Lederer said that previous research has identified similar disparities among patients waiting for liver or kidney transplants, as well as among patients with other advanced lung diseases.
However, Lederer also said, "Based on what we know about COPD, we expected that twice as many black patients would have been put on the lung transplant waiting list."
Researchers also found that blacks on the list were more likely than whites to not have private health insurance, to live in poorer neighborhoods and to have certain cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes and pulmonary hypertension. However, such characteristics were not considered to have an influence on the study's findings, HealthDay News/Forbes reports.
Despite the new organ transplant guidelines, blacks are likely to still face increased risk of being removed from the wait list or dying while on the list because of inadequate health insurance and poverty, Lederer said. He added, "Our findings point to significant barriers to accessing lung transplantation for minorities. These findings should alert primary care physicians and pulmonologists to consider referral of black patients with COPD for transplantation at the earliest signs of advanced disease" (HealthDay News/Forbes, 2/15).
An abstract of the study is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.