MEDICAL MYSTERY: Nearly 1 in 4 Girls Left Off Kidney Transplant List

A recent study by researchers at the University of California Davis found that boys were 22 percent MORE likely to be placed on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List than girls.  And, based on their extensive research, the reason may surprise you –  Researchers have no idea why.

“No readily apparent factors could account for girls not being wait-listed as frequently as boys, such as medical reasons or family preference—even after adjusting for multiple confounding factors, such as age, race or ethnicity, underlying diagnosis, and time of follow up,say researchers.

This reminds me of another study done by the University of California San Francisco that found “PBDEs – compounds used as flame retardants and now banned in many states, including California – and DDT – an organochlorine pesticide banned in the United States in 1972” in 99 percent of pregnant women they tested.

They didn’t know why either and suggested other tests.  Perhaps the incomplete study was a “pitch” for more research dollars.  I hope it worked.

This recent UC Davis study was formulated by researchers who extrapolated data from 4,473 patients under the age of 21 and noted an alarming gender inequality that negates nearly 1 in 4 young girls vying for a kidney transplant.

“The reason most often given for why girls were not placed on the wait list at every point in time was that their ‘work-up was in progress.'”

The data group was drawn from the North American Pediatric Renal Trials and Collaborative Studies database, which includes 150 renal treatment centers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.  In fact, the vastness of this group makes it all the more disturbing that girls are being left off in several countries.  The lead author of the study, Stephanie Nguyen, assistant professor of pediatric nephrology, suggests this is a call to clinicians to better evaluate patients and put them on the fast-track to a transplant list, especially given that organ rejection is highest the longer a child is on dialysis.

Three years ago, Johns Hopkins lead researcher, Dorry Segev, found the same gender disparity among older women who sought kidney transplants.

As women age, that discrepancy widens to the point where women over 75 are less than half as likely as men to be placed on a kidney transplant list,” said Segev.

The study shows that women aged 46 to 55 were 3 percent less likely to be placed on the transplant list.  At the age of 56 to 65, that disparity jumps to 15 percent.  From aged 66 to 75, nearly one-third of women were not placed on the list.  For women 75 years and older, more than half, 59 percent were less likely to make the transplant list than men.

Segev claims “unsubstantiated perceived frailty of women that factors subconsciously into the listing process.”

“It appears as though either the nephrologist believes women have a worse chance of survival or some women don’t think they will have a good outcome,” Segev said. “Once they are listed, however, women and men have an equal chance of getting a kidney, regardless of age.”

What’s the moral of this sad story?  Be your own medical advocate, for you and those you love.

Big thanks to Alltop and @GuyKawasaki for the story lead.