Background: The 2018 U.S. heart allocation system offers an accelerated pathway for heart transplantation to the most urgent patients.
Objectives: This study sought to determine whether the new allocation system resulted in lower likelihood of candidate recovery.
Methods: Adult patients waitlisted for heart transplantation with temporary mechanical circulatory support at the time of initial listing between 2010 and 2020 in the United Network for Organ Sharing registry were included. Competing events of heart transplantation, waitlist death or delisting for deteriorating condition, and delisting for improved condition (candidate recovery) were analyzed in the new vs old heart allocation system.
Results: A total of 688 patients were waitlisted with venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or a surgical nondischargeable biventricular assist device (status 1 or old 1A). Overall, 2,237 patients were waitlisted with an intra-aortic balloon pump, a percutaneous left ventricular assist device (LVAD), or a surgical nondischargeable LVAD (status 2 or old 1A). Patients waitlisted with venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or a nondischargeable biventricular assist device had significantly shorter median waitlist times (5 vs 31 days), higher incidence for cardiac transplantation (81.5% vs 43.0%), and lower incidence of candidate recovery (1.5% vs 7.9%) in the new vs old heart allocation system (all P < 0.05). Patients waitlisted with an intra-aortic balloon pump or percutaneous or a nondischargeable LVAD also had significantly shorter median waitlist times (8 vs 35 days), higher incidence of transplantation (88.9% vs 64.9%), and lower incidence of candidate recovery (0.2% vs 1.6%) in the new vs old heart allocation system (all P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Current practice of the new allocation system may not offer select temporary mechanical circulatory support patients the opportunity and adequate time to recover to the point of waitlist removal. Further research will determine which patients would benefit from urgent transplantation vs recovery strategy.
Keywords: candidate recovery; guideline; heart transplantation.
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