A man has filed a lawsuit alleging that an algorithm used to determine priority for organs is biased against Black people, The Washington Post reported April 10.
The plaintiff, Anthony Randall, who is Black, wants a federal court to allow him to make the lawsuit a class action that would represent 27,500 Black patients he claims have been disadvantaged as he has. Mr. Randall has kidney disease, which has prevented him from working. He has been waiting more than five years for a kidney, according to the report.
He is suing an affiliate of Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai and the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit organization that operates the U.S. transplant system. In recent months, both organizations have dropped the use of part of a formula that Mr. Randall cites in his lawsuit. In June, UNOS’ board of directors determined the “modifier for patients identified as Black … has led to a systemic underestimation of kidney disease severity for many Black patients. Specifically in organ transplantation, it may have negatively affected the timing of transplant listing, or the date at which candidates qualify to begin waiting time for a transplant.”
In January, hospitals were instructed to stop using that part of the algorithm and notify Black patients they might be eligible for adjustments to their accrued wait time, according to the report. Mr. Randall’s lawsuit stated Cedars-Sinai complied with the directive March 27 but said the review could take months.
As of April 5, Mr. Randall stated his “wait time continues to be incorrectly calculated in UNOS’s UNet software.”
An UNOS spokesperson declined to comment.
A Cedars-Sinai spokesperson told Becker’s in a statement, “Cedars-Sinai cares deeply about our patients, their families and our community. We want to assure our community that any concern brought to our attention is investigated thoroughly and addressed appropriately. Federal and state privacy laws prevent us from discussing specific patients. As an organization founded on principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, Cedars-Sinai continues to be committed to the health and well-being of everyone under our care.”
Two similar lawsuits were filed in New York and Washington in 2021 and 2022, respectively. In March, the government announced plans to overhaul the transplant system and break up the monopoly UNOS has had in operating it since 1986, according to the report.