UM outreach programs increase kidney transplants among African-Americans

f Maryland Medical Center and an author of the study says, The success of our African-American outreach comes from our efforts to eliminate barriers to transplantation and our focus on educating patients about living kidney donation. This focus is important because transplant waiting lists continue to grow, while cadaver organs remain in short supply.

Our outreach includes an education program that is sensitive to minority patients and a video that highlights the benefits of living organ donation. Also, the development of laparoscopic surgery to retrieve a kidney from a living donor, with its small incision and faster recovery, has made more recipients consider discussing donation with their loved ones, whereas they were reluctant to do so before, says Dr. Bartlett, who is also a professor of surgery and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center use hepatitis C positive donors for recipients who are also positive for hepatitis C. The virus affects about 6 percent of dialysis patients. They also encourage vaccination for hepatitis B, to allow safe transplantation of kidneys from people with past, inactive hepatitis B virus.

Dr. Foster says this practice favors African-Americans, because of a higher prevalence of hepatitis in that population. Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne infections that affect the liver. Vaccinations can prevent the spread of hepatitis B, but there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be infected with the hepatitis C virus. As for hepatitis B, the CDC says African Americans are three-to-four times as likely to be infected as whites.

Dr. Foster says use of these organs is safe, but it would be impossible to implant them in individuals who are not already infected with hepatitis C, or vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Dr. Foster says

Contact: Bill Seiler
University of Maryland Medical Center

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