Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine researchers found that Black adults in need of a heart transplant may be less likely to receive one compared with white patients.

Published in JAMA, the study utilized information from the United Network for Organ Sharing regarding people on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant in the United States from 2018 to 2023. Researchers analyzed data from 14,890 heart transplant candidates. About 31% of individuals were non-Hispanic Black, 69% were non-Hispanic white and 26% were women, according to an IU news release.

Researchers found that the odds of acceptance of a heart by the transplant team were higher for white patients compared with Black patients. In fact, Black candidates were about 24% less likely to have the first offered heart accepted by the transplant tea, compared with white candidates. What’s more, the odds were higher for women than for men.

“Black patients have a two to three times greater risk of developing heart failure than white patients, and they have the highest risk of dying from heart failure compared with all other racial and ethnic groups,” said Khadijah Breathett, MD, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, in the release. “But Black patients are less likely to be referred for a heart transplant, approved for transplant and receive a transplant after listing. The intersection of race and gender often worsens access for Black women.”

Patients listed for a heart transplant are ranked using a computer algorithm to match candidates and donors according to characteristics such as blood type, location and transplant urgency, according to Breathett. After a team at a transplant center reviews the data, it decides whether to accept the organ donation.

Although the organ matching process follows an algorithm, the transplant team’s decision to accept an offer may not be as standardized, leaving room for bias. Breathett also noted that structural racism may contribute to decreased access to quality and timely care, which can worsen health and increase severity of disease.

“I doubt it is intentional, but this study may demonstrate how bias leads to unfair decision-making that may mean life or death based upon race and gender,” she said. “We should provide centers with their data and incentivize them for doing the right thing. Evidence-based bias training and antiracism training are also important for centers to complete.”

To read more, click #Organ Transplant. There, you’ll find headlines such as “HBCU Encourages Black Med Students to Consider Becoming Transplant Surgeons,” “Congress Considers Easing Regulations on Air Transport of Donated Organs” and “How Blood Cancer Research Might Help Organ Transplant Patients.”