Objectives: Despite concern about access to liver transplantation, there has been no nationally based analysis of patients waiting for cadaveric liver transplant. Using data from the United Network for Organ Sharing Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database waiting and recipient lists, we examined the influence of medical and non-medical factors on the length of time patients waited before transplant and whether they survived the wait.
Methods: The authors analyzed 7,422 entries to the waiting list from October 1, 1990 to December 31, 1992. Using Cox Proportional Hazard models, time to transplant was modelled by gender, nationality and ethnicity, age, blood type, medical status (critically ill versus non-critical), transplant number (first versus retransplant), United Network for Organ Sharing region of the country, and three measures of local demand and supply of organs. The risk of dying before being allocated an organ was compared with receiving an organ using multiple logistic regression models.
Results: In addition to differences by medical status, blood type, geographic region, and organ supply and demand, it was found that women, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and children waited longer for transplant, whereas foreign nationals and repeat transplant patients waited fewer days. The risk of dying before transplant was greater for critically ill and repeat transplant patients, as well as for women, older patients, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans. Children were less likely to die, as were patients from certain blood groups and geographic regions.
Conclusions: Results confirm known patterns of waiting list experience for liver transplant patients, but also identify factors previously unrecognized as influencing waiting time and outcome. Potential explanatory factors and areas for further inquiry are discussed.