The ability of the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score to accurately predict death among liver transplant candidates allows for evaluation of geographic differences in transplant access for patients with similar death risk.
Adjusted models of time to transplant and death for adult liver transplant candidates listed between 2002 and 2003 were developed to test for differences in MELD score among Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) regions and Donation Service Areas (DSA).
The average MELD and relative risk (RR) of death varied somewhat by region (from 0.82 to 1.28), with only two regions having significant differences in RRs. Greater variability existed in adjusted transplant rates by region; 7 of 11 regions differed significantly from the national average. Simulation results indicate that an allocation system providing regional priority to candidates at MELD scores ≥15 would increase the median MELD score at transplant and reduce the total number of deaths across DSA quintiles. Simulation results also indicate that increasing priority to higher MELD candidates would reduce the percentage variation among DSAs of transplants to patients with MELD scores ≥15. The variation decrease was due to increasing the MELD score at time of transplantation in the DSAs with the lowest MELD scores at transplant.