Purpose of review
Simultaneous heart–liver (SHL) transplants are only a small proportion of overall heart and liver transplantation, they have been increasing in frequency and thus challenge the equitable allocation of organs.
The incidence of SHL transplants is reviewed along with the outcomes of SHL transplants and their impact on the waitlist, particularly in the context of solitary heart and liver transplantation. The ethical implications, most importantly the principles of utility and equity, of SHL transplant are addressed. In the context of utility, the distinction of a transplant being life-saving versus life-enhancing is investigated. The risk of hepatic decompensation for those awaiting both solitary and combined organ transplantation is an important consideration for the principle of equity. Lastly, the lack of standardization of programmatic approaches to SHL transplant candidates, the national approach to allocation, and the criteria by which programs are evaluated are reviewed.
As with all multiorgan transplantation, SHL transplantation raises ethical issues of utility and equity. Given the unique patient population, good outcomes, lack of alternatives, and overall small numbers, we feel there is continued ethical justification for SHL, but a more standardized nationwide approach to the evaluation, listing, and allocation of organs is warranted.