News Release

Thursday, March 8, 2012

NIH encourages reducing disparities in kidney transplantation

In recognition of World Kidney Day on March 8, the National Institutes of Health is promoting efforts to reduce disparities in organ transplantation. This is particularly important among African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians, all of whom are disproportionately affected by kidney failure — yet are less likely to receive organ transplants.

More than 20 million adults in the United States have chronic kidney disease, with an additional 400,000 people currently depending on dialysis to treat kidney failure, according to the U.S. Renal Data System. Of the more than 80,000 people on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant, 35 percent are African-American and nearly 19 percent are Hispanic, although they make up only 13 percent and 16 percent of the U.S. population, respectively.

"Part of the solution to the disparity in transplantation is to ensure that providers refer appropriate patients for transplant evaluation as soon as they’ve been diagnosed with kidney failure," said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). "It’s also important that more African-Americans and Hispanics register as organ donors and talk with loved ones about doing the same to increase the pool of kidneys available for transplantation."

NIDDK is leading several initiatives to help reduce disparities in organ transplantation:

  • The NIDDK, in collaboration with the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, funds the Minority Organ and Tissue Donation Program, which supports research on disparities in access to transplantation. Learn more about this program at
  • NIH’s National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) provides health professionals with tools and resources to educate at-risk populations about kidney failure treatments, including transplantation. Learn more about these resources at
  • To help reach people at high risk for kidney failure, NKDEP is leading a national faith-based outreach program, Kidney Sundays. On March 25, African-American faith organizations nationwide will educate parishioners about key risk factors associated with kidney disease and the importance of testing. NKDEP also offers the Family Reunion Initiative to provide African-American families with resources to talk about kidney health. For more information about Kidney Sundays, visit
  • The Kidney Interagency Coordinating Committee brings federal agencies together to collaborate in a multi-faceted response to kidney disease, aiming to make efforts to reduce disparities more successful. Learn more at

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. NIDDK’s research interests include diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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