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Importance: The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) evaluates donor risk for acute transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C based on US Public Health Services (PHS)-specific criteria. However, recent data regarding use and outcomes of those donors with PHS risk criteria among pediatric and adult heart transplant recipients are lacking.
Objective: To compare use and outcomes of graft from donors with PHS risk criteria vs those with a standard-risk donor (SRD) in children vs adults in a contemporary cohort.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort was a nationwide analysis of heart transplants in the US that used data from the UNOS database. Participants were children (<18 years old) and adults (≥18 years old) who received a heart transplant from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2021.
Exposures: UNOS-defined donor risk status.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Trend analysis compared changes in PHS risk criteria use among children and adults. Patient survival was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier curves with log rank and Cox proportional hazards to compare PHS risk-criteria outcomes vs SRD-criteria outcomes in children and adult heart transplant recipients. Additional analysis was performed among adults who received a PHS-risk criteria graft that was previously declined for pediatric recipients.
Results: Of 5115 pediatric transplant recipients (donor without PHS risk median [IQR] age, 5 [0-13] years and donor with PHS risk median [IQR] age, 8 [0-14] years) and 30 289 adult heart transplant recipients (donor without PHS risk median [IQR] age, 56 [46-63] years and donor with PHS risk median [IQR] age, 57 [47-63] years), PHS risk criteria comprised 8% in children vs 25% in adults. PHS criteria are being increasingly used over the past decade with the proportion of recipients transplanted with PHS risk-criteria donors being approximately 3 times greater among adult recipients than children recipients. Pediatric recipients of a PHS risk-criteria donor had greater pretransplant ventilatory support, whereas adult recipients of a PHS risk-criteria donor had greater pretransplant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use. Patient survival was similar between pediatric recipients of PHS risk-criteria grafts vs SRD-criteria grafts and slightly higher among adult recipients of PHS risk-criteria grafts vs SRD-criteria grafts. The 1778 adult recipients who received a PHS criteria-risk donor that was previously declined for pediatric recipients had similar patient survival recipients compared with SRD-criteria donors (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.81-1.03; P = .18).
Conclusions and Relevance: In the current era, a 3-fold greater proportion of adult recipients receive a PHS risk-criteria graft compared with children despite similar posttransplant patient survival. The ongoing organ donor shortage underscores the need for consideration of PHS risk criteria where these donors remain underused.