Access to Heart Transplantation: A Proper Analysis of the Competing Risks of Death and Transplantation Is Required to Optimize Graft Allocation

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Abstract

Background

Heart allocation systems are usually urgency-based, offering grafts to candidates at high risk of waitlist mortality. In the context of a revision of the heart allocation rules, we determined observed predictors of 1-year waitlist mortality in France, considering the competing risk of transplantation, to determine which candidate subgroups are favored or disadvantaged by the current allocation system.

Methods

Patients registered on the French heart waitlist between 2010 and 2013 were included. Cox cause-specific hazards and Fine and Gray subdistribution hazards were used to determine candidate characteristics associated with waitlist mortality and access to transplantation.

Results

Of the 2053 candidates, 7 variables were associated with 1-year waitlist mortality by the Fine and Gray method including 4 candidate characteristics related to heart failure severity (hospitalization at listing, serum natriuretic peptide level, systolic pulmonary artery pressure, and glomerular filtration rate) and 3 characteristics not associated with heart failure severity but with lower access to transplantation (blood type, age, and body mass index). Observed waitlist mortality for candidates on mechanical circulatory support was like that of others.

Conclusions

The heart allocation system strongly modifies the risk of pretransplant mortality related to heart failure severity. An in-depth competing risk analysis is therefore a more appropriate method to evaluate graft allocation systems. This knowledge should help to prioritize candidates in the context of a limited donor pool.

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