Regionwide sharing for status 1 liver patients – beneficial impact on waiting time and pre- and posttransplant survival

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Abstract

On August 21, 1999, Region 7 of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) adopted a policy of regionwide sharing of cadaver livers for UNOS Status 1 recipients. We examined what impact this policy had at our center on their waiting times, waiting list mortality, and outcomes. From January 1, 1995, through December 31, 2002, our center listed 39 patients for an emergent (Status 1) transplant, according to the current criteria for Status 1 listing: patients (adult and pediatric) with fulminant hepatic failure (FHF), hepatic artery thrombosis, or primary nonfunction early after a liver transplant, or critically ill pediatric patients with chronic liver disease. These 39 candidates were analyzed in 2 groups: those listed before regionwide sharing (Group I, n = 19) and those listed after (Group II, n = 20). Patient characteristics did not differ significantly between the 2 groups, including mean donor and recipient age, proportion of pediatric patients, and type of graft used (i.e., living or deceased donor, segmental or whole-organ). FHF was the most common cause of liver failure in both groups—74% versus 70% (P = ns). The next most common cause in both groups was hepatic artery thrombosis, followed by primary nonfunction. Most transplants used deceased donors; however, 2 of the transplants in Group I versus only 1 in Group II used living donors. Waiting list mortality (the patient death rate before a transplant could take place) was 32% in Group I versus only 5% in Group II (P = .03). The mean number of days on the waiting list was also substantially lower in Group II (2.9 days) than in Group I, (5.8 days) (P = .04). For patients who underwent a transplant, graft and patient survival rates at 6 months posttransplant were 69.2% in Group I versus 89.5% in Group II (P = .03). In conclusion, the introduction of regionwide sharing seems to have been of benefit for Status 1 patients at our center. They have a significantly lower risk of dying while waiting for a transplant and undergo one in a much shorter period of time. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:661–665.)

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