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Am J Med. 2004 Nov 1;117(9):670-5.

The net transfer of transplant organs across race, sex, age, and income.

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Center for Reducing Health Disparities, Department of Medicine, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



To determine how sociodemographic characteristics influence both access to transplantation and organ donation.


For all transplants in the United States from 1996 to 2001, donor-recipient pairs were categorized as white-white, white-black, black-white, or black-black. The difference in the percentage of white-black versus black-white pairs was calculated as a measure of the net transfer of organs from one racial group to another. A similar approach was used to examine the net transfer of organs across other sociodemographic categories.


Among cadaveric renal transplants, 66% of donor-recipient pairs were white-white, 23% were white-black, 5% were black-white, and 6% were black-black. Thus, there was an 18% net transfer of organs from white donors to black recipients (23% minus 5%). Among living donor transplants involving spouses, there was a 36% net transfer from wives to husbands. Among all cadaveric transplants, there was a 36% to 68% net transfer from younger donors to older recipients. Among cadaveric nonrenal transplants, there was a 7% to 18% net transfer from lower-income donors to higher-income recipients.


The sociodemographic characteristics of persons who donate organs and those who benefit from organ transplantation differ markedly. Efforts to improve access and increase donation should address these differences.

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