Trends in Characteristics of Patients Listed for Liver Transplantation Will Lead to Higher Rates of Waitlist Removal Due to Clinical Deterioration

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BackgroundChanges in the epidemiology of end-stage liver disease may lead to increased risk of dropout from the liver transplant waitlist. Anticipating the future of liver transplant waitlist characteristics is vital when considering organ allocation policy.MethodsWe performed a discrete event simulation to forecast patient characteristics and rate of waitlist dropout. Estimates were simulated from 2015 to 2025. The model was informed by data from the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, 2003 to 2014. National data are estimated along with forecasts for 2 regions.ResultsNonalcoholic steatohepatitis will increase from 18% of waitlist additions to 22% by 2025. Hepatitis C will fall from 30% to 21%. Listings over age 60 years will increase from 36% to 48%. The hazard of dropout will increase from 41% to 46% nationally. Wait times for transplant for patients listed with a Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) between 22 and 27 will double. Region 5, which transplants at relatively higher MELD scores, will experience an increase from 53% to 64% waitlist dropout. Region 11, which transplants at lower MELD scores, will have an increase in waitlist dropout from 30% to 44%.ConclusionsThe liver transplant waitlist size will remain static over the next decade due to patient dropout. Liver transplant candidates will be older, more likely to have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and will wait for transplantation longer even when listed at a competitive MELD score. There will continue to be significant heterogeneity among transplant regions where some patients will be more likely to drop out of the waitlist than receive a transplant.

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