Black man sues UNOS over kidney transplant algorithm racial bias

Occurred: April 2023

A Black patient accused the United Network for Organ Sharing and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of using an algorithm that unfairly made him and other Black patients on the kidney transplant list wait longer for organs.

Kidney disease sufferer Anthony Randall asked a federal court to allow him to make the lawsuit a class action representing 27,500 Black patients he claimed the algorithm also disadvantaged. Randall was forced to wait over five years for a kidney, which prevented him from working, according to court dockets. His suit also contended that he and others have suffered 'economic injuries' including dialysis and other medical costs. 

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a non-profit organisation that operates the US transplant system, and Cedars-Sinai dropped the use of the problematic part of the formula that Mr. Randall cited in his lawsuit. UNOS' board of directors found that including a 'modifier for patients identified as Black' had resulted in a widespread underestimation of the severity of kidney disease for many Black patients. 

However, Randall's complaint stated that his 'wait time continues to be incorrectly calculated in UNOS's UNet software.'

Operator: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Developer: United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
Country: USA
Sector: Health
Purpose: Allocate organ transplants
Issue: Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity
Transparency: Governance