New initiative to make UC Davis Health a leader in organ transplant equity


UC Davis Health has launched a new initiative to improve the organ transplantation system throughout California and work toward equity in organ donation.

Doctor Martin Cadeiras wearing a white coat speaking with a patient
Martin Cadeiras, principal investigator of the Pluralist Program

The initiative is called “Pluralist,” which stands for “patient centered precision digital health education.” Pluralist hopes to increase the availability of donor organs and access to life-saving surgery regardless of a patient’s socioeconomic standing. It will achieve this by developing scalable health education interventions that will be delivered by culturally competent health care providers.

“UC Davis Health is committed to advancing health equity and improving health outcomes for people in need of a life-saving transplant,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health. “Many members of our historically underserved communities are less likely to be placed on transplant waitlists and have had a lower likelihood of transplantation. This initiative will help identify potential system-wide improvements that would increase organ donations and advance equity in organ donation and transplantation.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, communities of color have much higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, all of which increase the risk for kidney disease. Black Americans are almost four times more likely, and Latino Americans are 1.3 times more likely, to have kidney failure compared to White Americans. Despite the higher risk, data shows Black and Latino patients on dialysis are less likely to be placed on the transplant waitlist and have a lower likelihood of transplantation.

“In my practice I often see patients who are in need of a transplant not be able to receive one due to the lack organ donors,” said Martin Cadeiras, medical director for the Advanced Heart Failure, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Device Program at UC Davis Health and principal investigator of the Pluralist Program. “Addressing this problem requires a multidisciplinary approach that challenges traditional interventions, which are currently falling short. We plan to leverage technology and social power to create a movement for better health that will reduce health disparities in organ transplantation throughout California.”

Using a patient-centered precision approach, Pluralist combines data and artificial intelligence to learn about the needs of the community and tailor proper education intervention using social networks and digital media to create greater organ donation awareness. Patient testimonials and interviews will be used to create educational content that will be shared among targeted communities throughout California to urge people to become donors, especially within communities of color.

The program anticipates reaching more than 22 million Californians over a two-year period with at least 70% from targeted racial and ethnic minorities, low-income groups, and rural area residents, as identified by the United States Census.

Martin Cadeiras
We plan to leverage technology and social power to create a movement for better health that will reduce health disparities in organ transplantation throughout California.” Martin Cadeiras

The Pluralist initiative is largely funded through a contribution by CareDx, who supports UC Davis Health in reducing health disparities in organ transplantation.

“At CareDx we have become the leading company in the transplant space through a commitment to innovating intelligent solutions that improve every patient’s journey through the transplantation process, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, and we chose to become the leading contributor to UC Davis Health’s Pluralist program because it shares the same mission and goals,” said Reg Seeto, CEO and president of CareDx. “Pluralist’s focus on the targeted patient, data and digital technology to achieve equality in organ donation, also aligns with CareDx’s efforts to educate and assist patients with digital offerings.”

The Pluralist Program is the latest initiative from UC Davis Health to provide a multidisciplinary approach to all organ transplant patients. The UC Davis Transplant Center performs transplants of the kidney, kidney-pancreas, isolated pancreas and beginning in 2023, the heart. Recently, the Kidney Transplant Program at the Medical Center ranked No. 7 in the country for total volume of kidney transplants and No. 1 in California for total number of deceased donor kidney transplants.

“We are committed to leading the effort in health equity in the transplant space and delivering comprehensive care to help our patients achieve their best possible outcome,” said Richard Perez, chief of Transplant Surgery and medical director for the UC Davis Health Transplant Center. “The Pluralist Program will increase organ donations, improve transplants and enhance the quality of care for transplant patients throughout California.”

Learn more about UC Davis Health’s Advanced Heart Failure Research Fund and Transplant Center