Race: A critical factor in organ donation, patient referral and selection, and orthotopic liver transplantation?

Academic Article


  • The influence of ethnic origin on organ donation and renal allograft survival after renal transplantation has been controversial. Several large studies have reported inferior renal allograft survival in black recipients, whereas others have reported equal survival. However, the issue of race as it relates to organ donation, patient referral, and patient selection in orthotopic liver transplantation has not been investigated. We retrospectively reviewed our results of organ donation, patient referral and selection, and orthotopic liver transplantation since 1989. Because of a concerted educational effort by this organ procurement organization, the percentage of black donors has increased from 6.1% in 1988 to 21.9% in 1996. Since the inception of the Liver Transplant Program in 1989, 844 patients have been referred to our transplant center for organ transplant evaluation. Disproportionately fewer black patients (119; 14.1%) were referred for liver transplantation than white patients (725; 85.9%) based on the prevalence of end-stage liver disease in these populations. The acceptance rate for listing for transplantation was similar between the two groups. The percentage of patient referrals who actually underwent transplantation was similar across racial lines (43% black v 42% white patients). However, it appeared that black patients were referred for liver transplantation at a later stage and were more critically ill at the time of referral. Nevertheless, the patient and graft survival were similar between black and white patients. The 1- and 3-year survival rates in white recipients was 88% and 81%, respectively, versus 96% and 84% in black recipients. Within this organ procurement organization, black donation has increased over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, there may be a selection bias at the level of referral for liver transplantation. However, once patients are referred to this center for liver transplantation, the rate of transplantation and survival is similar between white and black patients.
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    Author List

  • Eckhoff DE; McGuire BM; Young CJ; Sellers MT; Frenette LR; Hudson SL; Contreras JL; Bynon S
  • Start Page

  • 499
  • End Page

  • 505
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • 6