Language barriers and the kidney transplant waiting list

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Kidney transplant candidates who live in ZIP codes with more non-English speakers are less likely to make it onto the U.S. active waiting list, according to a recent study.

Those with linguistic barriers – especially in Hispanic and Asian households – also wait longer for a transplant evaluation or never complete one at all.

“The problem likely extends further than merely language. Cultural and educational barriers likely also play a role,” said senior study author Edmund Huang of the Kidney Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.

“Transplant centers and referring nephrologists should recognize that these populations may need additional attention in guiding them through the evaluation process,” he told Reuters Health.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network currently has more than 98,000 candidates on the kidney transplant waiting list. Typically, a third of these patients are listed as inactive due to an incomplete transplant evaluation, and about a third of inactive candidates never become active. Figuring out why candidates remain inactive and how to move them to active status could reduce health disparities in underserved communities, the study authors write in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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