Rural residents get fewer organ transplants

By Tom Nordlie • Published: May 26th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Country living has plenty of benefits… wide open spaces, fresh air, peace and quiet.

But city life has its advantages.

For example, most organ-transplant centers are in large urban areas.

And, on a per-capita basis, city dwellers get more transplants than rural residents do.

That’s according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For people with end-stage organ disease, transplantation is often the only hope for long-term survival.

So the disparity could be bad news for the thirty-eight million Americans living in rural areas.

In the study, researchers analyzed demographic data for almost one-hundred-seventy-five-thousand patients nationwide waiting for heart, liver or kidney transplantation.

About ninety-seven-thousand of them received transplants.

Compared with city-dwellers, eight to fifteen percent fewer rural residents were put on transplant waiting lists.

And ten to twenty percent fewer had transplantation surgery.

One piece of good news… both groups had the same chances of a successful outcome after transplant surgery.

Previous studies suggest rural residents are more likely to suffer chronic diseases than their urban counterparts.

Here, the researchers couldn’t explain why more urban residents sought and received transplants.

But they suggested some rural residents may have trouble traveling to faraway cities for the numerous doctor visits involved in transplant evaluation, surgery and aftercare.

If that’s the case, steps need to be taken to make transplants more accessible across the nation.

Because living in the wide open spaces shouldn’t mean accepting a narrower chance at life-saving medical care.