Combined orthotopic heart and liver transplantation: The need for exception status listing1


  • No funding for this work was provided by any source.


Through May 2004, 33 combined orthotopic heart-liver transplants (OHT/OLT) have been performed nationwide. No published data exist to date regarding outcomes of patients awaiting such transplants, although progression of two organ disease processes may contribute to premature death for waiting patients. Retrospective data were collected on patients listed for combined OHT/OLT from both an individual tertiary care transplant center and the national UNOS registry to delineate listing criteria and evaluate patient outcomes in both the pre- and post-MELD eras. All patients who survived to transplantation or died on the waiting list were included in the analysis. Results show that 29.6% of patients registered nationally and 42% of patients listed institutionally survived to transplantation. Survival to transplantation was associated with less severe liver disease, though patients with MELD scores ranging from 19 to 26 had significantly higher wait list mortality than expected when compared to single-organ liver transplants. Following combined orthotopic heart-liver transplantation, 80% and 70% of patients survive 1 and 3 years, respectively. In conclusion, combined OHT/OLT is a successful therapy, but current organ allocation policies may not ensure expeditious transplantation in critically ill patients with dual vital organ failure. Providing exception status listing to these patients would ensure more expeditious transplantation and potentially contribute to improved survival. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:1539–1544.)