Long waitlist times often lead to a higher risk of death for children awaiting heart transplantation. However, the team at Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, cut wait times by revising their waitlist protocols for donor heart size and patient severity status. Results from this intervention were presented today at the 2015 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Conference in Chicago.
As of July 2, 2015, more than 320 children nationwide were listed as candidates for heart transplantation, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network,1 the national database of people listed for organ transplant, managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Heart transplants pose a specific problem in terms of supply and demand. Unlike other organs, such as livers or kidneys, hearts can only be received from deceased donors. Children on the waitlist are prioritized by severity and matched by size to the donor. Previous research has found that up to 17 percent of pediatric heart transplant candidates die on the waitlist and the risk of dying increases the longer one has to wait, thus, the imperative to reduce waitlist time. Continue reading