Regional Variation in Survival Before and After Pediatric Heart Transplantation—An Analysis of The UNOS Database



Geographic variation occurs in a variety of health outcomes. Regional influences on outcomes before and after listing for pediatric heart transplantation have not been assessed. Review of the UNOS dataset identified 5398 pediatric (≤18 years) patients listed for heart transplantation 2000–2011. Patients were stratified based on the region of listing. Regional-level variables were correlated with individual risk-adjusted outcomes. Mean time spent on the waitlist varied from 91.0 ± 163 days (Region 6 [R6]) to 248.1 ± 493 days (R4, p < 0.0001). Regions with more transplant centers (p < 0.0001) and fewer transplants (p = 0.0015) had higher waitlist mortality. Risk-adjusted individual waitlist mortality varied from 6.9% (R1, CI 6.2–7.8) to 19.2% (R5, CI 18.0–20.6). Waitlist mortality was higher for individuals awaiting transplant in regions with more listings per center (OR 1.04, CI 1.01–1.08) and lower in regions with more donors per center (OR 0.95, CI 0.90–0.99 per donor). Posttransplant risk-adjusted survival varied across regions (R4: 5.4%, CI 4.2–7.4; R7: 18.0%, CI 12.4–32.5), but regional variables were not correlated with outcomes. Outcomes among children undergoing heart transplantation vary by region. Factors leading to increased competition for donor allografts are associated with poorer waitlist survival. Equitable allocation of cardiac allografts requires further investigation of these findings.