Liver Transplants Rarely Performed for Unauthorized Immigrants

Unauthorized immigrant status linked to similar risks for graft failure, death versus U.S. citizens/residents

human liver

FRIDAY, Sept. 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Liver transplantation (LT) is rarely performed for unauthorized immigrants in the United States, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in Hepatology.

Brian P. Lee, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and Norah A. Terrault, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, examined the national landscape of LT for unauthorized immigrants. All U.S. LT recipients between March 2012 and December 2018 were included; patients were categorized as unauthorized immigrants versus U.S. citizens/residents.

The researchers found that 99.6 percent of the 43,192 LT recipients were U.S. citizens/residents and 0.4 percent were unauthorized immigrants. Most LTs among unauthorized immigrants were performed in California and New York (47 and 18 percent, respectively). Among states, the absolute difference in the proportion of LTs performed for unauthorized immigrants versus the proportion of unauthorized immigrants among the total population differed, varying from +20 to −12 percent in California and Texas, respectively. Among LT recipients who were unauthorized immigrants, the most common countries of birth were Mexico, Guatemala, China, El Salvador, and India (52, 7, 6, 5, and 5 percent, respectively). Similar risks for graft failure and death were seen for unauthorized immigrants versus U.S. citizens/residents.

"Given these findings of acceptable survival outcomes among unauthorized immigrants, concern for worse survival should not be used as a reason to deny access to liver transplant," Lee said in a statement. "Continued financial support after transplant also can be a barrier in this group, but those means are confirmed beforehand and also not a reason for denial."

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Published on September 20, 2019

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