Ever since medicine adopted a race-based formula to assess kidney health in the mid-2000s, some experts have spoken out against it. The fight to remove a “Black or not Black” dichotomy from the kidney test equation, known as the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), has picked up steam in recent years, culminating in a recommendation from the National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology to remove the race variable.
But for countless people living with kidney disease, the recommendation comes too late. People like Glenda Roberts, who long self-identified as Black, and who has lived with kidney disease for most of her adult life. The “Black correction” in the eGFR made it look like her kidneys were doing better than they actually were, which delayed her being worked up for a kidney transplant. This delay led Roberts into an unplanned “crash into dialysis” before her transplant workup was complete.