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Newspaper Discovers Many Dialysis Patients Not Told of Kidney Transplant Option

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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently conducted a four-month review of records from the U.S. Renal Data System and discovered that some dialysis patients received at least five years of the debilitating treatment prior to being placed on a kidney transplant list. Moreover, other dialysis patients were never put on the list.

Kidney transplants are often cheaper and can lead to longer lives for patients with kidney failure. In fact, on average, a patient can live 10 years longer with a transplant. However, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review also discovered another dirty secret: kidney transplants are much cheaper than dialysis treatments. Actually, a kidney transplant costs approximately $50,000 less than dialysis treatment.

The $65-billion-dollars-a-year dialysis industry doesn’t want to give up the revenue they generate from health insurance payouts. Specifically, the newspaper found that the largest dialysis providers “need” insured patients to offset the losses they claim they sustain when they have to treat patients covered by Medicare. Still, other doctors claim this isn’t the case. Rather, they cite the lack of available organs for kidney patients as the reason why most patients receive dialysis instead. Nevertheless, from the review of the records, the newspaper found that only 16% of patients were listed for a kidney transplant in 2006, as compared to the government’s goal of 30%. Moreover, only 32,000 out of 106,000 kidney failure patients were even told of the transplant option.