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Liver Transpl. 2004 Oct;10(10 Suppl 2):S59-64.

Retransplantation for recurrent hepatitis C in the MELD era: maximizing utility.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology / Hepatology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA.


1. Retransplantation (re-LT) for hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurrence is controversial. Although re-LT accounts for 10% of all liver transplants (LTs), the number of patients requiring re-LT is expected to grow as primary LT recipients survive long enough to develop graft failure from recurrent disease. 2. Utility, as applied to the medical ethics of transplantation, refers to allocating organs to those individuals who will make the best use of them. The utility function (U) of liver transplantation is represented by the product of outcome (O = 1-year survival with LT) times emergency (E = 3-month mortality without LT), i.e., U = O x E. 3. For primary LT, maximal U is achieved by allocating organs at the highest model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score (i.e., "sickest first"). No significant differences exist between HCV and non-HCV diagnoses. 4. For re-LT, maximal utility for HCV and non-HCV diagnoses are achieved at MELD scores of 21 and 24, respectively. Utility starts to decline at MELD scores above 28. 5. The current allocation system (MELD) fails to maximize utility with regard to re-LT.

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