Racial and ethnic disparities in access to and utilization of living donor liver transplants

Yael R. Nobel, Kimberly A. Forde, Linda Wood, Katarzyna Cartiera, Armando S. Munoz-Abraham, Peter S. Yoo, Peter L. Abt, David S. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is a comparable alternative to deceased donor liver transplantation and can mitigate the risk of dying while waiting for transplant. Although evidence exists of decreased utilization of living donor kidney transplants among racial minorities, little is known about access to LDLT among racial/ethnic minorities. We used Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing data from February 27, 2002 to June 4, 2014 from all adult liver transplant recipients at LDLT-capable transplant centers to evaluate differential utilization of LDLTs based on race/ethnicity. We then used data from 2 major urban transplant centers to analyze donor inquiries and donor rule-outs based on racial/ethnic determination. Nationally, of 35,401 total liver transplant recipients performed at a LDLT-performing transplant center, 2171 (6.1%) received a LDLT. In multivariate generalized estimating equation models, racial/ethnic minorities were significantly less likely to receive LDLTs when compared to white patients. For cholestatic liver disease, the odds ratios of receiving LDLT based on racial/ethnic group for African American, Hispanic, and Asian patients compared to white patients were 0.35 (95% CI, 0.20-0.60), 0.58 (95% CI, 0.34-0.99), and 0.11 (95% CI, 0.02-0.55), respectively. For noncholestatic liver disease, the odds ratios by racial/ethnic group were 0.53 (95% CI, 0.40-0.71), 0.78 (95% CI, 0.64-0.94), and 0.45 (95% CI, 0.33-0.60) respectively. Transplant center-specific data demonstrated that African American patients received fewer per-patient donation inquiries than white patients, whereas fewer African American potential donors were ruled out for obesity. In conclusion, racial/ethnic minorities receive a disproportionately low percentage of LDLTs, due in part to fewer initial inquiries by potential donors. This represents a major inequality in access to a vital health care resource and demands outreach to both patients and potential donors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)904-913
Number of pages10
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Transplantation


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