How Far Veterans Live from VA Liver Transplant Center May Determine Survival

A new study found that where a veteran resides could impact his/her chance of survival when in need of a liver transplant. The farther away a vet lives from a VA liver transplant center, the greater the risk of not receiving one and a greater risk of dying.

There are only five VA liver transplant centers located in the following cities and states:

  • Houston, Texas;
  • Nashville, Tennessee;
  • Pittsburg, Pennsylvania;
  • Portland, Oregon; and
  • Richmond, Virginia.

In the study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed more than 50,000 vets between 2003 and 2010, who were eligible for a transplant. The chance of being put on the liver transplant waiting list was nine percent lower for each vet doubling in distance from a local VA hospital to a transplant center. Another issue is that even when a patient is placed on the waiting list, the chance of receiving a liver is reduced because he/she might not get there quick enough when one becomes available.

The study also found that five years after being diagnosed with liver failure, those within 100 miles of a transplant center had a 58 percent rate of survival. But for those living more than 300 miles away, it’s less than 45 percent.

Researchers also looked at vets with severe liver disease. Of those living within 100 miles, seven percent were put on the waiting list. But it was just three percent for those living more than 100 miles away. And for those who did make the waiting list, 64 percent of those living within 100 miles received a transplant, compared to less than 55 percent when further away.

Unfortunately, waiting can be an issue for vets in other ways; for instance, waiting to receive disability benefits. Whether you’re having trouble recovering benefits or wanting to ensure the initial claim filed correctly to avoid delays, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992.