Liver allocation policy in the U.S. was recently changed to a continuous disease severity scale with minimal weight given to time waiting in an effort to better prioritize deceased donor liver transplant candidates. We compared rates of waiting list registrations, removals, transplants, and deaths during the year prior to implementation of the new liver allocation policy (2/27/01-2/26/02, Era 1) with the first year's experience (2/27/02-2/26/03, Era 2) under this new policy. Rates were adjusted for 1,000 patient years on the waiting list and compared using z-tests. A 1-sided test was used to compare death rates; 2-sided tests were used to compare transplant rates. Overall and subgroup analyses were performed for demographic, geographic, and medical strata. In Era 2, we observed a 12% reduction in new liver transplant waiting list registrations, with the largest reductions seen in new registrants with low MELD/PELD scores. In Era 2, there was a 3.5% reduction in waiting list death rate (P = .076) and a 10.2% increase in cadaveric transplants (P < .001). The reduction in waiting list mortality and increase in transplantation rates were evenly distributed across all demographic and medical strata, with some variation across geographic variables. Early patient and graft survival after deceased donor liver transplantation remains unchanged. In conclusion, by eliminating the categorical waiting list prioritization system that emphasized time waiting, the new system has been associated with reduced registrations and improved transplantation rates without increased mortality rates for individual groups of waiting candidates or changes in early transplant survival rates.
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