A review of racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities in pediatric liver transplantation

Noelle H. Ebel, Jennifer C. Lai, John C. Bucuvalas, Sharad I. Wadhwani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Equity is a core principle in both pediatrics and solid organ transplantation. Health inequities, specifically across race, socioeconomic position, or geography, reflect a moral failure. Ethical principles of prudential life span, maximin principle, and fair innings argue for allocation priority to children related to the number of life years gained, equal access to transplant, and equal opportunity for ideal posttransplant outcomes. Iterative policy changes have aimed to narrow these disparities to achieve pediatric transplant equity. These policy changes have focused on modifying pediatric priority for organ allocation to eliminate mortality on the pediatric transplant waiting list. Yet disparities remain in pediatric liver transplantation at all time points: from access to referral for transplantation, likelihood of living donor transplantation, use of exception narratives, waitlist mortality, and inequitable posttransplant outcomes. Black children are less likely to be petitioned for exception scores, have higher waitlist mortality, are less likely to be the recipient of a living donor transplant, and have worse posttransplant outcomes compared with White children. Children living in the most socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods have worse posttransplant outcomes. Children living farther from a transplant center have higher waitlist mortality. Herein we review the current knowledge of these racial and ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities for these children. To achieve equity, stakeholder engagement is required at all levels from providers and health delivery systems, learning networks, institutions, and society. Future initiatives must be swift, bold, and effective with the tripartite mission to inform policy changes, improve health care delivery, and optimize resource allocation to provide equitable transplant access, waitlist survival, and posttransplant outcomes for all children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1520-1528
Number of pages9
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


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