The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

Impact of race and health coverage on listing and waitlist mortality in pediatric cardiac transplantation

Published:December 07, 2022DOI:


      Social factors like race and insurance affect transplant outcomes. However, little is known in pediatric heart transplantation. We hypothesized that race and insurance coverage impact listing and waitlist outcomes across eras.


      Data from the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society multi-center registry prospectively collected between January 1, 2000-December 31, 2019 were analyzed. Patients were divided by race as Black, White and other and by insurance coverage at listing (US governmental, US private and non-US single payer systems (UK, Canada). Clinical condition at listing and waitlist outcomes were compared across races and insurance coverages. Categorical variables were compared using a chi-square test and continuous variables using the Wilcoxon rank sum test. Risk factors for waitlist mortality were examined using multiphase parametric hazard modeling. A sensitivity analysis using parametric hazard explored the interaction between race and insurance.


      At listing, compared to Whites (n = 5391) and others (n = 1167), Black patients (n = 1428) were older, more likely on US governmental insurance and had cardiomyopathy as the predominant diagnosis (p < 0.0001). Black patients were more likely to be higher status at listing, in hospital, on inotropes or a ventricular assist device (p < 0.0001). Black patients had significantly shorter time on the waitlist compared to other races (p < 0.0001) but had higher waitlist mortality (p = 0.0091), driven by the earlier era (2000-2009) (p = 0.0005), most prominently within the US private insurance cohort (p = 0.015). Outcomes were not different in other insurance cohorts or in the recent era (2010-2019).


      Black children are older and sicker at the time of listing, deteriorate more often and face a higher wait list mortality, despite a shorter waitlist period and favorable clinical factors, with improvement in the recent era associated with the recent US healthcare reforms. The social construct of race appears to disadvantage Black children by limiting referral, consideration or access to pediatric cardiac transplantation.


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