Race, gender linked with chance of receiving heart transplant

Image of three medical professionals performing a surgery

Black patients in need of a heart transplant may be less likely to receive one than white patients, according to a new NHLBI-funded study. 

The study is the first to evaluate whether race or gender of a heart transplant patient on the transplant waiting list is linked with the probability being offered an organ. The researchers used information from the United Network for Organ Sharing about patients listed for a heart transplant in the United States from October 2018 to March 2023. Analyzing data from 14,890 transplant list candidates, the team found that overall white women were the most likely to be offered a transplant, whereas Black men were least likely. Black women and White men came in as the second and third most likely to receive and offer of a heart, respectively. These disparities remained after accounting for candidate and donor variables, possibly suggesting racial and gender bias in the decision-making process.  

“Investigation is needed to change modifiable factors contributing to these disparities,” said the study authors. 

The study appears in JAMA.