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Consent to organ offers from public health service "Increased Risk" donors decreases time to transplant and waitlist mortality.


The Public Health Service Increased Risk designation identified organ donors at increased risk of transmitting hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus. Despite clear data demonstrating a low absolute risk of disease transmission from these donors, patients are hesitant to consent to receiving organs from these donors. We hypothesize that patients who consent to receiving offers from these donors have decreased time to transplant and decreased waitlist mortality. We performed a single-center retrospective review of all-comers waitlisted for liver transplant from 2013 to 2019. The three competing risk events (transplant, death, and removal from transplant list) were analyzed. 1603 patients were included, of which 1244 (77.6%) consented to offers from increased risk donors. Compared to those who did not consent, those who did had 2.3 times the rate of transplant (SHR 2.29, 95% CI 1.88-2.79, p < 0.0001), with a median time to transplant of 11 months versus 14 months (p < 0.0001), as well as a 44% decrease in the rate of death on the waitlist (SHR 0.56, 95% CI 0.42-0.74, p < 0.0001). All findings remained significant after controlling for the recipient age, race, gender, blood type, and MELD. Of those who did not consent, 63/359 (17.5%) received a transplant, all of which were from standard criteria donors, and of those who did consent, 615/1244 (49.4%) received a transplant, of which 183/615 (29.8%) were from increased risk donors. The findings of decreased rates of transplantation and increased risk of death on the waiting list by patients who were unwilling to accept risks of viral transmission of 1/300-1/1000 in the worst case scenarios suggests that this consent process may be harmful especially when involving "trigger" words such as HIV. The rigor of the consent process for the use of these organs was recently changed but a broader discussion about informed consent in similar situations is important.

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