Transplants in foreign countries among patients removed from the US transplant waiting list

R. M. Merion, A. D. Barnes, M. Lin, V. B. Ashby, V. McBride, E. Ortiz-Rios, J. C. Welch, G. N. Levine, F. K. Port, J. Burdick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Transplant tourism, where patients travel to foreign countries specifically to receive a transplant, is poorly characterized. This study examined national data to determine the minimum scope of this practice. US national waiting list removal data were analyzed. Waiting list removals for transplant without a corresponding US transplant in the database were reviewed via a data validation query to transplant centers to identify foreign transplants. Additionally, waiting list removal records with text field entries indicating a transplant abroad were identified. We identified 373 foreign transplants (173 directly noted; 200 from data validation); most (89.3%) were kidney transplants. Between 2001 and 2006, the annual number of waiting list removals for transplant abroad increased. Male sex, Asian race, resident and nonresident alien status and college education were significantly and independently associated with foreign transplant. Recipients from 34 states, plus the District of Columbia, received foreign transplants in 35 countries, led by China, the Philippines and India. Transplants in foreign countries among waitlisted candidates in the US are increasingly performed. The data reported here represent the minimum number of cases and the full extent of this practice cannot be determined using existing data. Additional reporting requirements are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-996
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number4 PART 2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Foreign transplants
  • Transplant tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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