People with sickle cell disease benefit from kidney transplant, but are less likely to receive them

Anatomy of the kidneys

In the case of kidney failure, people living with sickle cell disease could benefit from transplantation just as much as any other patient, but are less likely to receive transplants, according to a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

To investigate, researchers examined a national registry pertaining to all U.S. adults with kidney failure who began maintenance dialysis or those who were added to the kidney transplant waitlist in between 1998 and 2017. Their analysis revealed that people who received a transplant, regardless of the cause, had lower rates of death. And survival was similar among transplant recipients who had sickle cell disease and those who did not, with roughly 20 percentage points better survival over 10 years.

But, people with sickle cell disease were 27 percent less likely to undergo transplantation than people without the painful disorder. When researchers narrowed the analysis to the kidney transplant waitlist, people with sickle cell disease were 38 percent less likely to receive a transplant than others.

The findings from the study, which was partly funded by NHLBI, suggest a need to eliminate disparities in access to this life-saving procedure.