Racial disparities in reaching the renal transplant waitlist: Is geography as important as race?

Milda R. Saunders, Haena Lee, G. Caleb Alexander, Hyo Jung Tak, J. Richard Thistlethwaite, Lainie Friedman Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: In the United States, African Americans and whites differ in access to the deceased donor renal transplant waitlist. The extent to which racial disparities in waitlisting differ between United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) regions is understudied. Methods: The US Renal Data System (USRDS) was linked with US census data to examine time from dialysis initiation to waitlisting for whites (n = 188 410) and African Americans (n = 144 335) using Cox proportional hazards across 11 UNOS regions, adjusting for potentially confounding individual, neighborhood, and state characteristics. Results: Likelihood of waitlisting varies significantly by UNOS region, overall and by race. Additionally, African Americans face significantly lower likelihood of waitlisting compared to whites in all but two regions (1 and 6). Overall, 39% of African Americans with ESRD reside in Regions 3 and 4 - regions with a large racial disparity and where African Americans comprise a large proportion of the ESRD population. In these regions, the African American-white disparity is an important contributor to their overall regional disparity. Conclusions: Race remains an important factor in time to transplant waitlist in the United States. Race contributes to overall regional disparities; however, the importance of race varies by UNOS region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-538
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Geographic factors
  • Healthcare disparity
  • Kidney transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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