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

Racial disparity exists in the utilization and post-transplant survival benefit of ventricular assist device support in children

Published:December 27, 2022DOI:


      Children of minority race and ethnicity experience inferior outcomes postheart transplantation (HTx). Studies have associated ventricular assist device (VAD) bridge-to-transplant (BTT) with similar-to-superior post-transplant-survival (PTS) compared to no mechanical circulatory support. It is unclear whether racial and ethnic discrepancies exist in VAD utilization and outcomes.


      The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database was used to identify 6,121 children (<18 years) listed for HTx between 2006 and 2021: black (B—22% of cohort), Hispanic (H—21%), and white (W—57%). VAD utilization, outcomes, and PTS were compared between race/ethnicity groups. Multivariable Cox proportional analyses were used to study the association of race and ethnicity on PTS with VAD BTT, using backward selection for covariates.


      Black children were most ill at listing, with greater proportions of UNOS status 1A/1 (p < 0.001 vs H & W), severe functional limitation (p < 0.001 vs H & W), and greater inotrope requirements (p < 0.05 vs H). Non-white children had higher proportions of public insurance. VAD utilization at listing was: B—11%, H—8%, W—8% (p = 0.001 for B vs H & W). VAD at transplant was: B—24%, H—21%, W—19% (p = 0.001 for B vs H). At transplant, all VAD patients had comparable clinical status (functional limitation, renal/hepatic dysfunction, inotropes, mechanical ventilation; all p > 0.05 between groups). Following VAD, hospital outcomes and one-year PTS were equivalent but long-term PTS was significantly worse among non-whites-(p < 0.01 for W vs B & H). On multivariable analysis, black race independently predicted mortality (hazard ratio 1.67 [95% confidence interval 1.22-2.28]) while white race was protective (0.54 [0.40-0.74]).


      Pediatric VAD use is, seemingly, equitable; the most ill patients receive the most VADs. Despite similar pretransplant and early post-transplant benefits, non-white children experience inferior overall PTS after VAD BTT.



      CHD (congenital heart disease), UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing), VAD (ventricular assist device)
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