Background: We assessed the impact of the liberalized ABO pediatric policy change on candidate characteristics and outcomes for children undergoing heart transplant (HT).
Methods and results: Children <2 years undergoing HT with ABO strategy reported at listing and HT from December 2011 to November 2020 to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients database were included. Characteristics at listing, HT, and outcomes during the waitlist and post-transplant were compared before the policy change (December 16, 2011 to July 6, 2016), and after the policy change (July 7, 2016 to November 30, 2020). The percentage of ABO-incompatible (ABOi) listings did not increase immediately after the policy change (P = .93); however, ABOi transplants increased by 18% (P < .0001). At listing, both before and after the policy change, ABOi candidates had higher urgency status, renal dysfunction, lower albumin, and required more cardiac support (intravenous inotropes, mechanical ventilation) than those listed ABO compatible (ABOc). On multivariable analysis, there were no differences in waitlist mortality between children listed as ABOi and ABOc before the policy change (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.61-1.05, P = .10) or after the policy change (aHR 1.2, 95% CI 0.85-1.6, P = .33). Post-transplant graft survival was worse for ABOi transplanted children before the policy change (aHR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-2.8, P = .014), but not significantly different after the policy change (aHR 0.94, 95% CI 0.61-1.4, P = .76). After the policy change, ABOi listed children had significantly shorter waitlist times (P < .05).
Conclusions: The recent pediatric ABO policy change has significantly increased the percentage of ABOi transplantations and decreased waitlist times for children listed ABOi. This change in policy has resulted in broader applicability and actual performance of ABOi transplantation with equal access to ABOi or ABOc organs, and thus eliminated the potential disadvantage of only secondary allocation to ABOi recipients.