Air transportation of patients with end-stage liver disease to distant liver transplantation centers

Liver Transpl. 2005 Jun;11(6):650-5. doi: 10.1002/lt.20399.


The Israeli population does not meet its transplantation organ needs. Therefore, liver transplantation (LTX) candidates are sometimes transported to centers abroad. We aimed to assess the demographic and clinical issues concerning this policy. Records of all candidates transported (2000-2004) were retrospectively reviewed. Data included etiology, disease severity, outcome, distances traveled and destinations, and medical complication arising en route. Forty-three candidates were transported overseas: 12 patients with fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) and 31 with cirrhosis. Average MELD score was 19.94, and the APACHE II score for patients with FHF was 20.5. Destinations included the United States, Colombia, Belgium, Germany, China, and Italy. Average distance traveled was 4,660 miles. Two patients were intubated and sedated during flight. All patients safely reached their destinations: 8 died prior to transplantation, 5 died after transplantation, 3 are awaiting transplantation, 3 recovered spontaneously, and the rest successfully underwent transplantation and returned home. In conclusion, our results suggest that long-distance transportation of patients awaiting liver transplantation is safe and technically feasible provided precaution measures are taken. Therefore, allocation regions may be broadened to include larger and more distant populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Air Ambulances*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Liver Failure, Acute / diagnosis*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*
  • Transportation of Patients / methods*
  • Transportation of Patients / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists