A Kidney Transplant Equity Milestone: Removing Race from the Kidney Donor Risk Index

July 03, 2024, 12:10pm EDT

Doctor smiling with patient

Patient advocates, we have a reason to celebrate! Thanks to the persistent, years-long advocacy of NKF and the over 2000 patient advocates who contacted the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), OPTN has finally removed the race-based indicator from the Kidney Donor Risk Index (KDRI). This change, announced on June 28, 2024, marks a significant victory in our ongoing fight for fairness and equality in kidney care.

Increasing Kidney Transplants

For years, the KDRI formula unfairly penalized kidneys from Black/African American donors, assigning them poorer organ function scores compared to those from White donors. This practice not only dishonored Black/African American donors but also disadvantaged countless patients awaiting life-saving transplants. The removal of this race-based factor, along with the elimination of Hepatitis C status from the calculation, promises to increase the number of kidneys available for transplantation.

The Power of Kidney Advocacy

Dr. Sylvia E. Rosas, President of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), emphasized the organization's commitment to health equity: "We believe all patients deserve equal access to kidney care and will continue to work towards that goal. This change is a testament to the power of collaborative advocacy, with organizations like NKF and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) joining forces to push for this crucial reform."

The impact of this policy change cannot be overstated. As Dr. Cynthia Delgado, a member of the OPTN task force, explained, "Some kidneys that may have otherwise been considered unsuitable for transplantation due to the inclusion of race in the formula will now receive more favorable scores, including some that will now be classified with scores that make them more appropriate for transplant."

This victory belongs to all of us. The nationwide petition launched by NKF as part of its KIDNEY EQUITY FOR ALL™ initiative garnered over 2,000 signatures from dedicated advocates like you. Your voices were heard, and your efforts have directly contributed to advancing equity in deceased kidney donation.

Your persistence, passion, and dedication have made a real difference. This change will save lives and bring hope to countless patients and families. Let's carry this momentum forward as we continue to fight for kidney equity for all. Together, we are reshaping the landscape of kidney care and building a more just and inclusive healthcare system for everyone.

Not part of our kidney advocacy community? Become a Voices for Kidney Health Advocate today

Looking Forward

As we celebrate this achievement, let's remember that our work is far from over. Nearly 90,000 individuals remain on the national kidney transplant waitlist. This policy change is a significant step forward, but we must continue to advocate for equitable access to high-quality, patient-centered kidney care from diagnosis to transplantation. Sign NKF's Equity Spotlight Petition to join our mission. Together, we can create a more equitable future in kidney healthcare.

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