Racial disparities in outcomes of adult heart transplantation

Arman Kilic, Robert S.D. Higgins, Bryan A. Whitson, Ahmet Kilic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - This study evaluated whether minority orthotopic heart transplant (OHT) recipients tend to be transplanted at worse performing centers. Methods and Results - OHT recipients between 2000 and 2010 were identified in the United Network for Organ Sharing database and stratified by race. Center performance was evaluated using observed-to-expected mortality ratios that were calculated using validated indexes for recipient and donor risk in OHT. The primary outcome was 1-year post-OHT mortality. A total of 102 centers performed OHT in 18 085 patients. Blacks had higher unadjusted 1-year mortality, which was confirmed after risk adjustment. Blacks had increased risk-adjusted mortality at poor performing centers (observed-to-expected mortality ratio, >1.2; odds ratio, 1.37 [95% confidence interval, 1.12-1.69]; P=0.002) and a strong trend toward increased mortality at excellent performing centers (observed-to-expected mortality ratio, <0.8; odds ratio, 1.42 [95% confidence interval, 0.99-2.02]; P=0.06). A higher proportion of blacks were treated at centers with higher-than-expected mortality (56.4% versus 47.1% whites versus 48.1% Hispanics; P<0.001), a finding that persisted after adjusting for insurance type and highest education level. In addition, there was a positive correlation between the percentage of blacks and observed-to-expected mortality ratios at the center level (r=0.32; P=0.001). In multivariable analysis incorporating immunologic and socioeconomic variables, there was no clear dominant source for the disparities in outcomes of OHT between races. Conclusions - Blacks have a propensity to be transplanted at worse performing centers; however, center effect alone does not explain the mortality difference between ethnicities. Although referral of minorities to better performing centers would improve absolute survival, it would not likely eliminate the racial disparities that exist in OHT outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-889
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2015


  • Heart failure
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Surgery
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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