US pediatric transplant candidates have limited access to lung transplant due to the small number of donors within current geographic boundaries, leading to assertions that the current lung allocation system does not adequately serve pediatric patients. We hypothesized that broader geographic sharing of pediatric (adolescent, 12–17 years; child, <12 years) donor lungs would increase pediatric candidate access to transplant. We used the thoracic simulated allocation model to simulate broader geographic sharing. Simulation 1 used current allocation rules. Simulation 2 offered adolescent donor lungs across a wider geographic area to adolescents. Simulation 3 offered child donor lungs across a wider geographic area to adolescents. Simulation 4 combined simulations 2 and 3. Simulation 5 prioritized adolescent donor lungs to children across a wider geographic area. Simulation 4 resulted in 461 adolescent transplants per 100 patient-years on the waiting list (range 417–542), compared with 206 (range 180–228) under current rules. Simulation 5 resulted in 388 adolescent transplants per 100 patient-years on the waiting list (range 348–418) and likely increased transplant rates for children. Adult transplant rates, waitlist mortality, and 1-year posttransplant mortality were not adversely affected. Broader geographic sharing of pediatric donor lungs may increase pediatric candidate access to lung transplant.
This study addresses the problem of US pediatric transplant candidates' limited access to lung transplants and shows that broader geographic sharing of pediatric donor lungs can increase pediatric transplant rates without adversely impacting adult patients.