Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness in liver transplantation (LT) of utilizing organs donated after cardiac death (DCD) compared with organs donated after brain death (DBD).
Methods: A Markov-based decision analytic model was created to compare two LT waitlist strategies distinguished by organ type: (i) DBD organs only, and (ii) DBD and DCD organs. The model simulated outcomes for patients over 10 years with annual cycles through one of four health states: survival; ischaemic cholangiopathy; retransplantation, and death. Baseline values and ranges were determined from an extensive literature review. Sensitivity analyses tested model strength and parameter variability.
Results: Overall survival is decreased, and biliary complications and retransplantation are increased in recipients of DCD livers. Recipients of DBD livers gained 5.6 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) at a cost of US$69 000/QALY, whereas recipients on the DBD + DCD LT waitlist gained 6.0 QALYs at a cost of US$61 000/QALY. The DBD + DCD organ strategy was superior to the DBD organ-only strategy.
Conclusions: The extension of life and quality of life provided by DCD LT to patients on the waiting list who might otherwise not receive a liver transplant makes the continued use of DCD livers cost-effective.