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Investigating inequalities in kidney transplantation for children and young people

03 July 2023

Dr Lucy Plumb, from the University of Bristol, has been awarded a Paediatric Start-Up grant of £39,000 from Kidney Research UK to look at inequalities in access to kidney transplants for children and young people.

The problem

In the UK around 1,000 people under the age of 18 have kidney failure. Kidney failure is treated either by dialysis or, preferably, by kidney transplant. Kidney transplant is particularly important for children since it gives the best chance for typical growth and development. Kidney Research UK’s 2018 report into inequalities in kidney transplants revealed that in adults there are differences in care based on sex, ethnicity and where in the country the patient lives, but we need more information on whether the same pattern is seen in young people and children.

Headshot of Lucy in her office
Dr Lucy Plumb

"I am thrilled to be working with Kidney Research UK and a fantastic team of researchers to understand whether access to a kidney transplant for UK children differs according to their sex, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. Understanding the inequalities in accessing the best treatment we have for kidney failure is the first step to addressing them. We are committed to making sure access to kidney care is fair and equitable for all children." Dr Lucy Plumb

The solution

Lucy and her team will investigate if gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic factors affect the chances of a child receiving a kidney transplant. She will look at data from the UK Renal Registry and the NHS Transplant Registry to study the impact of these factors on a young patient’s access to a kidney transplant. Additionally, if Lucy finds that there are inequalities, she intends to then find why these inequalities exist and seek to change them.

What this means for kidney patients

Lucy’s work will support one of Kidney Research UK’s key aims of making kidney health equal for everyone. By identifying any inequalities and looking for interventions to address them, Lucy and her team will help support better access to donor kidneys for those who most need them.

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