Hepatic epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (HEHE) is a rare vascular tumor with a high mortality rate. HEHE is now a formally recognized indication for exception point priority in the United States under the new National Liver Review Board. The role of liver transplantation (LT) and exception point waitlist priority in the United States for patients with HEHE remains understudied.
This was a retrospective cohort study using the United Network for Organ Sharing transplant database. From February 27, 2002 to January 31, 2018, 131 adults waitlisted for LT with HEHE were identified by free-text entry.
Exception point applications were submitted for 91.6% (120/131) of patients. All patients with fully reviewed applications received exception points at least once during waitlisting, and 85% (103/120) upon first submission. Among the 88 patients transplanted, median model for end-stage liver disease score at LT was 7 ((interquartile range [IQR]: 6–11) and waiting time 78.5 days (IQR: 29.5–237.5). Unadjusted post-LT survival of HEHE recipients at 1-, 3-, and 5-years from LT was 88.6%, 78.9%, and 77.2%. Unadjusted post-LT patient and graft survival of HEHE patients was not different from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma within Milan receiving exception point priority (P = 0.08). An increased rate of graft failure due to hepatic artery thrombosis ≤14 days from initial LT was observed in HEHE versus non-HEHE patients (4.6% versus 0.5%).
The majority of HEHE recipients receive exception points at a universal approval rate allowing prompt access to deceased donor LT.