Local allocation of lung donors results in transplanting lungs in lower priority transplant recipients

Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Apr;95(4):1231-4; discussion 1234-5. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.11.070. Epub 2013 Jan 24.


Background: Under the current lung allocation system, if organs are accepted for a candidate within the local donor service area (DSA), they are never offered to candidates at the broader regional level who are potentially more severely ill, even if the nonlocal candidate has a higher lung allocation score (LAS). The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency with which organs were allocated to a local lung recipient while a blood group-matched and size-matched candidate with a higher LAS existed in the same region.

Methods: United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) provided deidentified patient-level data. The study population included all locally allocated organs for double-lung transplants (DLTs) performed in 2009 in the United States (n=580). All occurrences of an ABO blood group-matched, height-matched (±10 cm), double-lung candidate in the same region, with a higher LAS than the local candidate who actually received the organs, were calculated; these occurrences were termed events.

Results: In 2009, 3,454 events occurred when a local DLT recipient candidate received a DLT while a DLT candidate in the same region had a higher LAS. With a mean of 5.96 events per transplant, this impacted 480 (82.8%) of the 580 DLTs. Further, 555 (16.1%) of these events involved 1 (or more) of the 185 regional candidates who ultimately did not receive transplants and died while on the waiting list.

Conclusions: This analysis suggests that the locally based lung allocation system results in a high frequency of events whereby an organ is allocated to a lower-priority candidate while an appropriately matched higher priority candidate exists regionally.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / methods*
  • United States
  • Waiting Lists*
  • Young Adult