Need Liver, Will Travel

A recent commentary (G Cholankeril et al. Gastroenterol 2016; 151: 382-86) provides a succinct summary regarding the trends in liver transplantation multiple listing and its implications on notions of utility and justice.

Key points:

  • UNOS was established based on Congressional act in 1984: 42 U.S.C. § 274.  The principles of “justice” and “utility” were to be key in governing an equitable  allocation system.
  • Due to allocation inequities, however, some prospective liver transplant candidates seek multiple listings. From 2010 to 2015, 1082 of 70,080 (2%) liver transplant candidates on the waitlist had multiple listings. During that same time frame, 862 (multiply-listed) of 32,431(total transplants) (3%) underwent liver transplantation.
  • Candidates who migrated had “shorter waiting time before liver transplantation and higher probability of receiving an organ (multiple listings 80% versus primary listing 46%; P<.001)”
  • Multiple listing candidates had lower severity of illness and lower MELD score at time of liver transplantation (multiple listings 25 versus primary listing 28; P<.001)

Regional distribution:

  • 46% of the 862 multiply-listed patients who underwent liver transplantation received their organ in UNOS region 3 (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico)
  • 67% of those 862 emigrated away from Regions 2, 5, and 9 -which have the longest waiting times. Figure 1 shows the 11 Regions.  Region 2 & 9 include New York, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  Region 9 includes California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

My take: Under the current system, liver transplant candidates capable of travelling/multiple listing, are rewarded with earlier liver transplantation & higher likelihood of receiving a liver transplant.  Thus, until inequities in organ distribution are better addressed, patient’s may need to consider telling their transplant team: ‘Need Liver, Will Travel’

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One thought on “Need Liver, Will Travel

  1. Pingback: Weak Link in Liver Transplantation Survival | gutsandgrowth

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