Jim Plante and the Quest to Understand Paradoxes in Kidney Failure Populations

Medical statistics have uncovered a paradox connected with kidney dialysis that researchers so far cannot explain. Minority patients, including black and Hispanic individuals, live longer on average while on dialysis than white persons do. Another confusing aspect is that white men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 live longer on dialysis than black persons do. Entrepreneurs like Jim Plante who focus on businesses that support genetic research want to discover the reasons for these types of mysteries.

In the general population, white individuals have a longer average lifespan than black persons do. In addition, minority populations are more likely to develop end-stage renal failure than white persons are. They also are less likely to receive a kidney transplant because of the scarcity of kidneys from donors that would be a good match. These data are confounding since the information does not seem reasonable.

Statistics

About 400,000 patients in the United States are being treated with routine maintenance dialysis at any given time. These patients have end-stage kidney failure and could not survive without the treatments that remove waste products and excess fluid from their blood. About 14 percent of the adult population has some level of kidney disease, which may be caused by diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure or genetic factors.

Research

The data on minority patients undergoing dialysis is from a study from the American Nephrology Society that was published in 2013. The researchers found that Hispanics tend to live longer on dialysis than black patients do and that black patients tend to live longer on dialysis than non-Hispanic white individuals do.

Increasing Lifespans

Kidney disease is increasing among all ethnic and racial populations but these patients also are generally living longer than they used to. The lifespans after beginning dialysis and after receiving a transplant both are increasing, on average.

Healthcare practitioners and medical researchers hope that examining various aspects of dialysis care for different racial and ethnic groups, as well as characteristics of their populations, can shed light on why some patients do better with this treatment. Genetics appears to be a strong component. Improvements then could be made across the board.