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Kids' liver transplant success varies by race

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MONDAY, Dec. 9, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- White children in the United States have higher liver transplant survival rates than blacks and other minority children, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at 208 patients, aged 22 and younger, who received a liver transplant at Children's Hospital of Atlanta between January 1998 and December 2008. Fifty-one percent of the patients were white, 35 percent were black, and 14 percent were other races.

At one, three, five and 10 years after transplant, organ and patient survival was higher among white recipients than among minority recipients, the investigators found. The 10-year organ survival rate was 84 percent among whites, 60 percent among blacks and 49 percent among other races. The 10-year patient survival rate was 92 percent for whites, 65 percent for blacks and 76 percent among other races.

Organ failure and death rates remained higher among minority groups compared to white patients even after the researchers accounted for differences in factors such as their social and economic status, according to the study, published in the December issue of the journal Liver Transplantation.

"While our study determined differences in post-transplant outcomes between minority and white pediatric liver transplant recipients, we were unable to fully explain the reason for these disparities," senior author Rachel Patzer, of the division of transplantation at Emory University, said in a journal news release.

"Further investigation of the reasons for racial and ethnic differences, particularly on a national level, is necessary to identify interventions that may help reduce disparities in pediatric liver transplantation," she concluded.

Over the past 30 years, the one-year survival rate for American children who've had a liver transplant has improved measurably. It's now 90 percent, compared with 70 percent prior to 1980.

More information

The American Liver Foundation has more about liver transplantation.

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