Mean lifetime survival estimates following solid organ transplantation in the US and UK

Christopher N. Graham, Crystal Watson, Arie Barlev, Matt Stevenson, Vikas R. Dharnidharka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Aims: Accurately estimating mean survival after solid organ transplant (SOT) is crucial for efficient healthcare resource allocation decisions. However, registry-based post-transplant recipient survival estimates vary greatly and are incomplete. Often, the methods used in lifetime survival extrapolation may not fit complex transplant data and therefore alternative methods are required. We aimed to explore the flexible cubic spline methodology as a meaningful alternative for estimating lifetime survival following SOT. Methods: Survival analyses were conducted in kidney, liver, heart, and lung transplant recipients. Mean survival was estimated using flexible cubic splines on the hazard scale fitted with three knots, based on where hazards changed direction, clinical advice, and best-fit curve using Akaike and Bayesian information criterion. The tail was extrapolated when data were no longer available. Extrapolation tails were compared with general population mortality, using age-matched life table hazards, and the highest hazards were taken at all times. Results: We found that mean survival post-transplant was longest for kidney transplants (US: 22.79 years; UK: 26.58 years), followed by liver (US: 20.90 years; UK: 20.38 years), heart (US: 14.82 years; UK: 15.85 years), and lung (US: 9.28 years; UK: 9.21 years). A sensitivity analysis using two knots found differences in survival ranging from −1.30 to +4.83 years across SOTs examined. Limitations: This study does not represent individual patient survival, survival by age groups, multiple-organ transplants, or assess factors that may impact overall or organ survival. Conclusions: Our study estimates reflect real-world survival following SOTs and demonstrate the importance of including long-term hazards in survival estimations. These lifetime survival estimates can be used by decision-makers in situations where means are preferred over medians (e.g. population projections, budgetary estimates, and cost-effectiveness models) and can thus offer a meaningful alternative to the estimates used and accepted in current practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-237
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • SOT
  • survival
  • survival estimates
  • transplant


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