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Sex-based disparities in delisting for being “too sick” for liver transplantation

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Women with cirrhosis awaiting liver transplantation (LT) experience higher rates of waitlist mortality than men; it is unknown whether practices surrounding delisting for being "too sick" for LT contribute to this disparity beyond death alone. We conducted an analysis of patients listed for LT in the United Network for Organ Sharing/Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network not receiving exception points from May 1, 2007 to July 1, 2014 with a primary outcome of delisting with removal codes of "too sick" or "medically unsuitable." A total of 44 388 patients were included; 4458 were delisted for being "too sick" for LT. Delisting was more frequent in women (11% vs 9%, P < .001). Compared to delisted men, delisted women differed in age (58 vs 57), non-hepatitis C virus listing diagnoses (69% vs 56%), hepatic encephalopathy (36% vs 31%), height (161.9 vs 177.0 cm), private insurance (47% vs 52%), and Karnofsky performance status (60 vs 70) (P < .001 for all). There were no differences in Model for End-Stage Liver Disease including serum sodium and Child Pugh Scores. A competing risk analysis demonstrated that female sex was independently associated with a 10% (confidence interval 2%-18%) higher risk of delisting when accounting for rates of death and transplantation and adjusting for confounders. This study demonstrates a significant disparity in delisting practices by sex, highlighting the need for better assessments of sickness, particularly in women.

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