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Liver Transpl. 2013 Apr;19(4):404-10. doi: 10.1002/lt.23604. Epub 2013 Mar 17.

Offer patterns of nationally placed livers by donation service area.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


We previously reported that national liver distribution is highly concentrated in 6 US centers, and this raises the possibility of expedited placement. Therefore, we evaluated all national offers of nationally placed livers (n=1625) to adult wait-list candidates from February 2005 to January 2010. We developed a model to predict national utilization pathways; pathways exceeding the best-fit linear unbiased predictions by ≥3 standard errors were defined as preferred. All 51 donation service areas (DSAs) placed 1 or more livers nationally, but the percentage per DSA ranged from 1% to 36%. Of 2830 possible national DSA-center pathways, 87% were used. Five hundred eighty livers (36%) were accepted on the first national offer. Four DSAs accounted for 47% of first-national-offer livers, and 44% of these were accepted by a single center. In comparison with first-offer livers using nonpreferred pathways, first offers along a preferred pathway were offered to fewer status 1 candidates (19% versus 61%) and had lower median model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) scores (22 versus 36, P<0.001). In conclusion, DSA placement patterns of national livers vary widely, with 4 DSAs exporting a high proportion of national livers on the first national offer to non-status 1 candidates with MELD scores less than their local transplant MELD scores. Although this practice may facilitate liver placement, it raises the possibility of expedience trumping patient need. Here we propose changes to the national liver distribution system that will help to balance equity, efficiency, and transparency.

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