Native Americans are shut out of US liver transplant system

Occurred: 2018-2021

Native Americans are much less likely than other racial groups to gain a spot on the US national liver transplant list, despite having the highest rate of death from liver disease.

According to an analysis of four years of transplant data by The Markup and The Washington Post, White people gained a spot on the transplant list almost three times more often than Native Americans, compared with their total number of deaths from liver disease

Native Americans are four times more likely to die from the disease than non-Hispanic White people, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous men ages 35 to 44. 

With native Americans advancing to surgery at the same rate as White people, the study showed that access to the live transplant list is a primary driver of disparity. However, experts said they may not know that a liver transplant is an option, resulting in large numbers of Native Americans with liver problems dying untreated.

Developer: United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
Country: USA
Sector: Health
Purpose: Allocate liver transplants
Technology: Ranking algorithm
Issue: Bias/discrimination; Fairness