Exception point applications for 15 points: An unintended consequence of the Share 15 policy

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In 2005, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) adopted the Share 15 policy to improve organ allocation by facilitating transplantation for local and regional patients with Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores of 15 or higher. There has been concern that the lack of standardization in the use of exception points is potentially diminishing the benefits of this policy. We reviewed all applications for 15 exception points submitted through UNOS from January 1, 2005 through March 14, 2011 (notably, there were only 5 applications for 15 MELD exception points submitted before the initiation of the Share 15 policy). Four hundred fifty-two applications were submitted for 301 patients. There was significant regional variability, with regions 3 and 10 submitting 72.1% of all applications. More than one-quarter of the applications (32.7%) specifically requested exception points to make a patient eligible for a local, regional, or higher risk organ. All applications were accepted for 74.1% of the patients, and 72.2% of these patients ultimately underwent transplantation; however, when all applications were denied, only 54.0% underwent transplantation (P = 0.006). Overall, 197 applicants (65.4%) underwent transplantation with a deceased donor organ, and 80.2% of these patients had a native MELD score at transplantation less than 15. In conclusion, these analyses demonstrate several important changes in practice that have occurred as a result of the implementation of the Share 15 policy. Since 2005, there has been a marked increase in the number of applications for 15 exception points, with significant regional variability in their use and a lack of standardization in their approval. Liver Transpl, 2012. © 2012 AASLD.

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