Liver transplantation in patients with multiple organ failures: Feasibility and outcomes

Paul J. Thuluvath, Avesh J. Thuluvath, Steven Hanish, Yulia Savva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Multiple organ failures (OFs) are common in patients with cirrhosis, but the independent effect of the number or type of OFs on liver transplantation (LT) outcomes is not well defined. Method: United Network for Organ Sharing data were analyzed from 2002 to 2016 for all adults listed for LT who received an LT within 30 days after listing. We estimated post-LT survival stratified by number and type of pre-transplant OFs before and after adjusting for confounding variables. Results: During the study period, 4,714 (4.1%) patients died and 19,375 (16.6%) patients were transplanted within 30 days of listing. One or more OF were more common in those who were transplanted (57.4%) compared to those without LT (9.5%). The probability of staying alive more than 30 days on the waiting list without LT decreased with increasing number of OFs; while 90% were alive without OF, only 20% were alive with two OFs, and 2–8% with three or more OFs. The interval between listing and transplantation decreased with an increase in OFs, and the median time to transplant after listing was only 4–5 days with three or more OFs. Although the risk of post-LT mortality increased with increasing number of OFs, the 90-day patient survival was 90% and one-year survival was 81% in the presence of 5–6 OFs. The number of OFs was an independent predictor of survival, but the maximum difference in one-year graft or patient survival between those without OF and those with 5–6 OFs was only 9%. Additionally, the type of OF had minimal impact on outcomes. Conclusions: Liver transplantation is feasible with excellent outcomes, even in the presence of five or six OFs. Lay summary: Multiple organ failures, ranging from 1–6, are common in hospitalized patients with cirrhosis. The survival without liver transplant is dismal in the presence of three or more organ failures. Small retrospective studies have shown that liver transplant is feasible with good outcomes even in the presence of multiple organ failures. In this study, using a large national dataset, we show that survival chances for more than 30 days in those with three or more organ failures are less than 8%. However, if a liver transplant is performed quickly, the survival chances are very high with one-year survival ranging from 84% with three organ failures to 81% with 5–6 organ failures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1056
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Liver transplant
  • Organ failure
  • Survival outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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