Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Study finds rural patients are less likely to receive organ transplants, and are net organ donors

Rural patients are less likely to be placed on waiting lists for organ transplants and less likely to receive transplants than urban patients, according to a study published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. David A. Axelrod and his colleagues at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., investigated the influence of rural residence on heart, kidney and lung transplant waiting lists and transplantation rates. The authors analyzed data from 174,630 patients who were wait-listed and who underwent heart, liver, or kidney transplantation between 1999 and 2004.

"This study demonstrates that patients living in small towns and isolated rural regions were eight percent to 15 percent less likely to be wait-listed and ten percent to 20 percent less likely to undergo heart, liver, and kidney transplantation than patients in urban environments," the authors write.

The rate of survival following a transplant was similar for rural and urban patients. The authors conclude that certain "barriers" block access for rural patients. Chief among those is the fact that most transplant services are located in urban centers, which means rural patients often must to long distances for care. To watch video report on the JAMA study, go here.

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