14,000 Black Patients Move Up Kidney Transplant List Due To Racist Testing

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Over 14,000 Black patients have been moved up kidney transplant lists following revelations of racist medical testing.

One of those patients, 29-year-old Jazmin Evans, was put on a kidney transplant list in 2019 and had her date moved up by years. According to a letter from her healthcare provider, Evans should've been added to the list in 2015.

“I remember just reading that letter over and over again,” Evans told the Associated Press. “How could this happen?”

AP reports that a once widely used test overestimated how healthy Black people's kidneys actually were. An automated formula calculated results for Black and non-Black patients differently, causing a delay in diagnosis for organ failure and evaluation for transplants.

A few years ago, the National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology pushed for laboratories to change how they calculated kidney function. The U.S. organ transplant network followed suit by ordering hospitals to use only race-neutral tests when adding patients to kidney waiting lists.

“The immediate question came up: What about the people on the list right now? You can’t just leave them behind,” Dr. Martha Pavlakis of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and former chair of the network’s kidney committee said.

In an attempt at restorative justice, the transplant network gave hospitals a year to find which Black patients could've qualified for a new kidney sooner and adjust their wait time to make up for it. Roughly 14,300 Black patients were moved up the list between January and March 2023. Among those patients, over 2,800 have received a transplant thus far.

Still, racially biased medical formulas and algorithms remain in use, disproportionally affecting people of color.

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