Fat And Waiting

People who are very obese who need a kidney transplant have lower chances of getting a kidney than those who are not. And if their name does pop up on a waiting list, it is after an average of 12-18 months, according to a new study.

The reason behind this trend is both medical and economical. People who are very obese have far greater chances for complications, and the additional cost to bear these problems fall onto the transplant centers. The study shows that patients who average around 100 pounds over their ideal weight were 44% less likely to get a transplant while those who are just slightly obese were 28% less likely to get a transplant.

Additionally, very obese patients are also more likely to die. Every year about 8% of all patients die waiting for a transplant. Obesity has become a reason to exclude a potential transplant recipient. Although, once someone has been accepted for the waiting list, the patient is meant to progress to the top of the list as time passes, however doctors or transplant staff were unconsciously or consciously choosing slimmer candidates over obese patients.

Now, one of the main insurers for kidney transplants, Medicare, pays a fixed rate despite the difficulty of every case, meaning that the transplant hospital would bear the additional brunt of costs for complications that wouldn’t arise in slimmer patients. And this also means that transplant centers that have poorer survival rates risk losing Medicare funding.

All of this research was compiled on an analysis of the records of 132,353 patients on the kidney transplant waiting list between 1995 and 2006. You can get the in-depth report in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

And yes, a University of North Carolina School of Medicine official has noted that obese patients, whose chances for a transplant in the past were slim, are now put on the waiting list as new rules have taken effect over the 11 years studied.

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