Patients in need of liver transplantation may travel to improve their chance of receiving an organ. We evaluated factors to determine which transplant candidates travel to other regions to increase their chances of receiving a liver and effects of travel on waitlist outcomes.We performed a retrospective cohort study of all adult patients registered for primary deceased donor liver transplantation in the United States from January 2004 to December 2016. Zip code data were used to calculate the distance of travel from a patient's residence to centers at which they were on the waitlist or received a liver transplant. Distant listing and migration were defined as placement on a waitlist and receipt of liver transplantation, respectively, outside the home transplantation region and greater than 500 miles from the home zip code. We assessed the effect of distant listing on outcomes (death and liver transplantation) and predictors of distant listing or migration using multivariable analyses.There were 104,914 waitlist registrations during the study period; 2930 (2.8%) pursued listing at a distant center. Of waitlist registrants, 60,985 received liver transplants, of whom 1985 (3.3%) had migrated. In a multivariable competing risk analysis in which liver transplantation considered as a competing event, distant listing was associated with an 22% reduction in the risk of death within 1 year (subhazard ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.70-0.88). Distant listing and migration were associated with non-black race, non-Medicaid payer, residence in a higher income area, and education beyond high school.Placement on a liver transplant waitlist outside the home transplantation region is associated with reduced waitlist mortality and an increased probability of receiving a liver transplant. Geographic disparities in access to liver transplantation have disproportionate effects on patients who are minorities, have lower levels of education, or have public insurance.
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