Improved Outcomes of Heart Transplantation in Adults With Congenital Heart Disease Receiving Regionalized Care


The number of adult congenital heart disease (CHD) patients undergoing heart transplantation is increasing rapidly. CHD patients have higher surgical risk at transplantation. High-volume adult CHD transplant centers may have better transplant outcomes.


This study aimed to evaluate the effect of center CHD transplant volume and expertise on transplant outcomes in CHD patients.


The authors studied heart transplantations in CHD patients age ≥18 years using the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) database for the primary outcomes of waitlist mortality and post-transplant outcomes at 30 days and 1 year. Transplant centers were assessed by status as the highest CHD transplant volume center in a UNOS region versus all others, presence of Adult Congenital Heart Association accreditation, and adult versus pediatric hospital designation.


Between January of 2000 and June of 2018, 1,746 adult CHD patients were listed for transplant; 1,006 (57.6%) of these underwent heart transplantation. After adjusting for age, sex, listing status, and inotrope requirement, waitlist mortality risk was lower at Adult Congenital Heart Association accredited centers (hazard ratio: 0.730; p = 0.020). Post-transplant 30-day mortality was lower at the highest volume CHD transplant center in each UNOS region (hazard ratio: 0.706; p = 0.014).


Designated expertise in CHD care is associated with improved waitlist outcomes for CHD patients listed for transplantation. Post-transplant survival was improved at the highest volume regional center. These findings suggest a possible advantage of regionalization of CHD transplantation.

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