Donor organ turn-downs and outcomes after listing for pediatric heart transplant

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29 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Pediatric heart transplant waitlist mortality remains significant but allograft offer refusals are common and allografts continue to be discarded. Our aim in this study was to assess the impact of donor organ refusals on mortality after listing using a multi-institutional data set. METHODS: In this study we conducted a retrospective review of donor offers made to pediatric (<18 years) recipients in the United States in the period from 2007 to 2017. Candidates were stratified by whether they refused an acceptable donor offer (ADO). Acceptance was defined as an offer from a donor <40 years old and within 1,000 miles that was ultimately accepted by a waitlist candidate. Candidate survival after an offer was assessed. RESULTS: There were 12,447 hearts offered at least once to a pediatric candidate. Most candidates (n = 4,282, 84.4%) refused the first offer, and 677 (15.4%) of these subsequently died or were removed from the list for deterioration. Refusal of an ADO was associated with higher mortality after listing, independent of transplant, in both univariate (1 year: 92% vs 87%, p = 0.002) and multivariate (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.2 to 1.7, p < 0.0001) Cox regression analyses. ADO refusals were not correlated with improved post-transplant survival and >8 ADO refusals was associated with higher risk-adjusted post-transplant mortality (odds ratio 1.7, 95% confidence interval 1.0 to 2.9, p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Refusal of ADOs is associated with higher risk-adjusted mortality after listing (independent of transplantation), without improvement in post-transplant outcomes. So, although a “perfect” organ would be ideal, acceptance of one that is “good enough” has the potential to improve survival among pediatric candidates for heart transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • donor organ refusals
  • heart transplant
  • pediatrics
  • post-transplant outcomes
  • waitlist mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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