How to obtain and maintain favorable results after heart transplantation: keys to success?
We compared survival in our heart recipients with survival rates reported by the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) Registry. As recipient and donor characteristics are changing over time, we studied four different eras. In order to differentiate between short- and long-term survival, we analyzed both overall survival and survival conditional on 1 year survival. Obviously, this exercise is only relevant when baseline donor and recipient characteristics are comparable, as these differences may affect the outcome in opposite directions. To overcome this potential bias as much as possible, we calculated the Index for Mortality Prediction After Cardiac Transplantation (IMPACT)-scores and the Donor Risk Index (DRI). Looking to our results, we found that our DRIs, in the different eras are almost equal to those obtained from the United Network for Organ Sharing database in the very same eras. Our IMPACT-scores, on the other hand, seem higher than those reported by ISHLT. Survival after transplantation and conditional on 1-year survival was higher than the outcome reported by the ISHLT Registry. As our operation technique and post-transplant immunosuppressive schedule did not differ from most centers, we speculated on potential factors that might contribute to our positive results. Patient selection and a relatively short waiting time are important contributors to the overall survival benefit. Our centralized follow-up may also have played an important role. Finally, the indefinite compulsory health insurance coverage in our country and easy access to different screening programs might also have influenced our outcome in a positive way. We are well aware that with challenges like donor organ shortage, more and more patients on mechanical circulatory support (MCS) will affect outcomes in the future.