A Concentric Neighborhood Solution to Disparity in Liver Access That Contains Current UNOS Districts

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Abstract

Background

Policymakers are deliberating reforms to reduce geographic disparity in liver allocation. Public comments and the United Network for Organ Sharing Liver and Intestinal Committee have expressed interest in refining the neighborhoods approach. Share 35 and Share 15 policies affect geographic disparity.

Methods

We construct concentric neighborhoods superimposing the current 11 regions. Using concepts from concentric circles, we construct neighborhoods for each donor service area (DSA) that consider all DSAs within 400, 500, or 600 miles as neighbors. We consider limiting each neighborhood to 10 DSAs and use no metrics for liver supplies and demands. We change Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) thresholds for the Share 15 policy to 18 or 20 and apply 3- and 5-point MELD proximity boosts to enhance local priority, control travel distances, and reduce disparity. We conduct simulations comparing current allocation with the neighborhoods and sharing policies.

Results

Concentric neighborhoods structures provide an array of solutions where simulation results indicate that they reduce geographic disparity, annual mortalities, and the airplane travel distances by varying degrees. Tuning of the parameters and policy combinations can lead to beneficial improvements with acceptable transplant volume loss and reductions in geographic disparity and travel distance. Particularly, the 10-DSA, 500-mile neighborhood solution with Share 35, Share 15, and 0-point MELD boost achieves such while limiting transplant volume losses to below 10%.

Conclusions

The current 11 districts can be adapted systematically by adding neighboring DSAs to improve geographic disparity, mortality, and airplane travel distance. Modifications to Share 35 and Share 15 policies result in further improvements. The solutions may be refined further for implementation.

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