The Association of the UNOS Heart Allocation Policy Change With Transplant and Left Ventricular Assist Device Access and Outcomes

Daniel K. Fox, R. J. Waken, Fengxian Wang, Jonathan D. Wolfe, Keenan Robbins, Erika Fanous, Justin M. Vader, Joel D. Schilling, Karen E. Joynt Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In October 2018, the allocation policy for adult orthotopic heart transplant (OHTx) in the United States was changed, with the goal of reducing waitlist mortality and providing broader sharing of donor organs within the United States. This study aimed to assess the association of this policy change with changes in access to OHTx versus left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), overall and in key sociodemographic subgroups, in the United States from 2016 to 2019. We identified all patients receiving OHTx or LVAD between 2016 and 2019 using the National Inpatient Sample. Controlling for medical co-morbidities, prepolicy trends, and within-hospital-year effects, we fit a dynamic logistic regression model to evaluate patient and hospital factors associated with receiving OHTx versus LVAD before versus after policy change. We also examined the frequency of temporary mechanical circulatory support in the same fashion. We identified 2,264 patients who received OHTx and 3,157 who received LVADs during the study period. In its first year of implementation, the United Network for Organ Sharing policy change of 2018 was associated with no overall change utilization of OHTx versus LVAD. In OHTx recipients, the frequency of use of temporary mechanical circulatory support changed from 15.6% in the before period to 42.6% in the after period (p <0.001). Although the policy change was associated with differences in the odds of receiving an OHTx versus LVAD between different regions of the country, there were no significant changes based on age, gender, race/ethnicity, insurance status, or rurality. In conclusion, the United Network for Organ Sharing policy change on access to OHTx was associated with no overall change in OHTx versus LVAD use in its first year of implementation although we observed small changes in relative odds of transplant based on rurality. Shifts in regional allocation were not significant overall, although certain regions appeared to have a relative increase in their use of OHTx.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Volume204
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

Keywords

  • health policy
  • left ventricular assist devices (LVADs)
  • orthotopic heart transplant (OHTx)
  • outcomes

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