If you are the father of a little girl who needs a new kidney in order to live, you're not going to like this news. The guy next door, your neighbor who is the father of a little boy who also needs a new kidney to live, has a much better chance of getting his kid on the kidney transplant list -- because his kid is a boy. You know that boys and men are favored in this country; and as a male, you've been a recipient of this favoritism.
It's not just girls who have a tough time getting on the waiting list for a donated kidney. It's also adult women. Your wife, your daughter's mother, would have a much more difficult time getting on the list than you would. The same applies to your mother, grandmother, sister and aunt. Perhaps you should consider doing something about it.
No, no, I'm not talking about China here. In China, where some families still live on sanpans on the water, you can see the little boys have ropes tied around their waists. That way should they topple into the water, they can be pulled out of the water and rescued. The little girls have no such ropes. Their parents don't feel the girls' lives are worth as much as the boys.
How many Americans would shake their fists, holler and deny that we have that kind of sexism in our country today? One hell of a lot more than those folks who've had daughters or wives they are desperate to get on the Kidney Transplant List.
OLDER WOMEN DIE WITHOUT A CHANCE
Researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed data from more than half a million patients with renal disease (from 2000 to 2005) and found that female patients over the age of 45 do not have the same access to transplant waiting lists as their male counterparts --even though they fare as well or better than men their age after a transplant. Additionally "as they got older, they had less and less and less," chance according to Dr. Dorry Segev, who led the study. "A lot of older women die without having an opportunity to get on the transplant list."
GIRLS HAVE FEWER CHANCES TOO
This study is one of the first studies, also using a national pediatric population, to also document that among children and adolescents with kidney failure, female patients are less likely to be listed for transplant than male patients.
Published in the March edition of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers reported the following specific stats: women between 46 and 55 were 3 percent less likely to be added to a list; women between 56 and 65 were 15 percent less likely; and, women over 75 were 60 percent less likely than men to get a chance at a new kidney.
"I think there is something either about the way patients view themselves or the providers view the older women as more frail and less able to tolerate an operation," said Segev.
PROVIDERS ARE GENDER BIASED
There are two main steps that determine who is placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing kidney transplant list -- referral by a nephrologist and how the patient decides to act on that referral. "It appears as though either the nephrologist believes women have a worse chance of survival or some women don't think they will have a good outcome, Segev said, contending that this "perceived frailty" has no basis in fact, since for every age group analyzed in the study, the survival outcome for women after transplantation was equal to or higher than men.
In summary, the report said that although a specific cause has not been identified, "the results of our study and previous evaluations suggest that this gender gap is more likely due to attitudinal and interpersonal factors, such as patient preferences, provider biases and patient-provider interactions, than to biologic or clinical differences between male and female patients with ESRD( permanent irreversible damage to the kidneys)."
Hopefully, there will be nephrologistS familiar with this study. After all, it is published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology. Of course, I've seen physicians' offices where the medical journals pile-up unopened and unread. And then there are the doctors who tell their elderly female patients in particular, "Don't worry Dear. It'll all be okay. Trust me."
What? Trust that you aren't biased against old women -- and young girls? Prove it doctors. Do something about this.
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