In followup to this morning’s post, Pediatric Liver Transplantation: It’s Past Time to Split, one reader pointed out an abstract by Emily R. Perito et al.presented at this year’s AASLD which showed that pediatric deaths would decrease if more livers were split.
Increasing split liver transplantation in the U.S. could decrease pediatric deaths on the liver transplant waiting list
Emily R. Perito1,3, Garrett Roll2, Jennifer L. Dodge2,
Background: In the United Kingdom, defaulting to split liver transplantation (LT) with suitable deceased donor grafts has virtually eliminated pediatric waitlist (WL) mortality. In the US, only <2% of LTs are split, but 1 in 10 infants die on the WL.
Methods: Using UNOS STAR data, livers for potential split LT were identified from all transplanted, deceased-donor livers 2010-15 who fit strict criteria: age 18-40y, BMI<30, recovered in US after donor brain death, 0-1 vasopressors, a <155meq/L, AST/ALT<100IU/L, bilirubin<3mg/dL, <7d hospitalized, cardiac arrest≤30min, HBV/HCV neg, not CDC high-risk, steatosis≤10% if biopsied, not multi-organ transplant, and no bloodstream infection. Livers allocated to patients high-risk for split LT were also removed: status 1A or MELD/PELD≥40 at WL removal, re-transplant, in the ICU, BMI>34, or >300mi from donor hospital. Pediatric WL deaths included deaths and removals for too sick to transplant, never relisted.
Results: Of 35,461 livers transplanted 2010-15, 6.7% were potentially utilizable for split LT based on donor characteristics. Of these, 95% were transplanted whole (n=2,253). 50% went to recipients deemed possibly high-risk for split LT. This left 1,116 potential livers for split LT (FIGURE); 78% of their primary recipients were listed as willing to accept a segmental liver, and 97% to accept cold ischemia time≥6h (CIT, median 12h). Median donor risk index for this subset was 1.06 (max 1.67). During the same 5y, 261 children died after ≥3d on the WL (median 57d, IQR 15-161)—87% of all pediatric WL deaths. Of these, 56% were <2y of age, 26% 2-12y, 18% 13-18y. Median weight was 9.2kg (IQR 5.9-29.4kg). 36% died at centers that reported doing no pediatric split LTs (15%) or ≤1/year (22%).
Conclusions: Increased utilization of split LT could decrease US pediatric WL mortality—without decreasing LT access for adults. Barriers are significant, but changes to allocation policy, increasing centers with splitting experience, and splitting on normothermic perfusion could increase access and reduce WL mortality.