Since July 2006, the Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score has served as the national basis for allocation of donor livers for transplantation in Brazil. Patients with higher MELD scores receive greater priority for allocation regardless of the time on the waiting list.
To investigate the impact of MELD score implementation on the survival of waiting list patients.
A retrospective study of patients registered at the national Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) for the liver transplantation waiting list between January 2004 and June 2006 (pre-MELD) and between July 2006 and December 2008 (post-MELD).
We included listed patients awaiting liver transplantation in the pre-MELD era (n = 250, 48.4%) and in the post-MELD era (n = 266, 51.6%). The times awaiting transplant prior to and after the MELD system were 487.2 +/- 384.8 days and 183.9 +/- 157.2 days, respectively. Prior to the MELD score, waiting list survivals were greater when compared to rates in the current system. Early posttransplant patient survival rates were significantly reduced in the post-MELD era (83.4%) compared to the period before MELD implementation (93.2%).
MELD score provides a transparent, objective system to drive allocation policy; however, it presents several important limitations. Constant need of changes and reevaluation are needed as an evolutionary process. Future changes in the present system may be addressed by adjusting the MELD system.