Under Share 35, deceased donor (DD) livers are offered regionally to candidates with Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores ≥35 before being offered locally to candidates with MELD scores <35. Using Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients data from June 2013 to June 2015, we identified 1768 DD livers exported to regional candidates with MELD scores ≥35 who were transplanted at a median MELD score of 39 (interquartile range [IQR] 37–40) with 30-day posttransplant survival of 96%. In total, 1764 (99.8%) exports had an ABO-compatible candidate in the recovering organ procurement organization (OPO), representing 1219 unique reprioritized candidates who would have had priority over the regional candidate under pre–Share 35 allocation. Reprioritized candidates had a median waitlist MELD score of 31 (IQR 27–34) when the liver was exported. Overall, 291 (24%) reprioritized candidates had a comparable MELD score (within 3 points of the regional recipient), and 209 (72%) were eventually transplanted in 11 days (IQR 3–38 days) using a local (50%), regional (50%) or national (<1%) liver; 60 (21%) died, 13 (4.5%) remained on the waitlist and nine (3.1%) were removed for other reasons. Of those eventually transplanted, MELD score did not increase in 57%; it increased by 1–3 points in 37% and by ≥4 points in 5.7% after the export. In three cases, OPOs exchanged regional exports within a 24-h window. The majority of comparable reprioritized candidates were not disadvantaged; however, 21% died after an export.
In a national study of liver transplant candidates, the majority of local candidates who lost priority to regional MELD 35+ candidates were eventually transplanted, but 21% of those with comparably high MELDs died while still on the waitlist.