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Liver Transpl. 2014 Jan;20(1):89-99. doi: 10.1002/lt.23765. Epub 2013 Nov 29.

Pediatric liver transplantation for urea cycle disorders and organic acidemias: United Network for Organ Sharing data for 2002-2012.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.


Decision making concerning liver transplantation is unique for children with urea cycle disorders (UCDs) and organic acidemias (OAs) because of their immediate high priority on the waiting list, which is not related to the severity of their disease. There are limited national outcome data on which recommendations about liver transplantation for UCDs or OAs can be based. This study was a retrospective analysis of United Network for Organ Sharing data for liver recipients who underwent transplantation at an age < 18 years in 2002-2012. Repeat transplants were excluded. Among the pediatric liver transplants, 5.4% were liver-only for UCDs/OAs. The proportion of transplants for UCDs/OAs increased from 4.3% in 2002-2005 to 7.4% in 2010-2012 (P < 0.001). Ninety-six percent were deceased donor transplants, and 59% of these patients underwent transplantation at <2 years of age. Graft survival improved as the age at transplant increased (P = 0.04). Within 5 years after transplantation, the graft survival rate was 78% for children < 2 years old at transplant and 88% for children ≥ 2 years old at transplant (P = 0.06). Vascular thrombosis caused 44% of the graft losses, and 65% of these losses occurred in children < 2 years old. Patient survival also improved as the age at transplant increased: the 5-year patient survival rate was 88% for children with UCDs/OAs who were <2 years old at transplant and 99% for children who were ≥2 years old at transplant (P = 0.006). At the last-follow-up (54 ± 34.4 months), children who underwent transplantation for UCDs/OAs were more likely to have cognitive and motor delays than children who underwent transplantation for other indications. Cognitive and motor delays for children with UCDs/OAs were associated with metabolic disorders, but they were not predicted by age or weight at transplant, sex, ethnicity, liver graft type (split versus whole), or hospitalization at transplant in univariate and multivariate analyses. In conclusion, most liver transplants for UCDs/OAs occur in early childhood. Further research on the benefits of early transplantation for patients with UCDs/OAs is needed because a younger age may increase posttransplant morbidity.

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