Increase in Mortality Rate of Liver Transplant Candidates Residing in Specific Geographic Areas: Analysis of UNOS Data

Authors


Luca Cicalese, lucicale@utmb.edu

Abstract

We sought to evaluate survival of liver transplant candidates living in geographic areas with limited access to specialized transplant centers (TxC). We analyzed survival outcome among candidates listed for liver transplant in United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) Region 4 from 2004 to 2010. Candidates were stratified into three groups according to the distance from the patient's residence to the closest hospital with a liver transplant program: Group 1 (Gr 1) <30 miles (m), Group 2 (Gr 2) 30–60 m and Group 3 (Gr 3) >60 m. Of the 5673 patients included in the study, 49% resided >30 m from a TxC. Eight percent of the cohort experienced death or dropped out of the list due to medical condition deterioration, with worse outcomes for Gr 2 and Gr 3 (8.5% and 9.9%, respectively, vs. 6.5% for Gr 1 [p < 0.001]). Among patients with a MELD score <20, mortality was higher in Gr 2 and Gr 3 compared to Gr 1 (p < 0.001). We conclude that for Region 4, the mortality risk in patients living >30 m from a TxC is higher. We suggest that the variable “distance from a TxC” should be used to improve the estimate of the mortality risk for patients on the waiting list.

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