Does recipient work status pre-transplant affect post–heart transplant survival? A United Network for Organ Sharing database review

Yazhini Ravi*, Srihari K. Lella, Laurel A. Copeland, Kiumars Zolfaghari, Kathleen Grady, Sitaramesh Emani, Chittoor B. Sai-Sudhakar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Recipient-related factors, such as education level and type of health insurance, are known to affect heart transplantation outcomes. Pre-operative employment status has shown an association with survival in abdominal organ transplant patients. We sought to evaluate the effect of work status of heart transplant (HTx) recipients at the time of listing and at the time of transplantation on short- and long-term survival. Methods: We evaluated the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) registry for all adult HTx recipients from 2001 to 2014. Recipients were grouped based on their work status at listing and at heart transplantation. Kaplan–Meier estimates illustrated 30-day, 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year survival comparing working with non-working groups. The Cox proportional hazards regression model was applied to adjust for covariates that could potentially confound the post-transplantation survival analysis. Results: Working at listing for HTx was not significantly associated with 30-day and 1-year survival. However, 5- and 10-year mortality were 14.5% working vs 19.8% not working (p < 0.0001) and 16% working vs 26% not working (p < 0.0001), respectively. Working at HTx appeared to be associated with a survival benefit at every time interval, with a trend toward improved survival at 30 days and 1 year and a significant association at 5 and 10 years. Kaplan–Meier analysis demonstrated a 5% and 10% decrease in 5- and 10-year mortality, respectively, for the working group compared with the group not working at transplantation. The Cox proportional hazards regression model showed that working at listing and working at transplantation were each associated with decreased mortality (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71 to 0.91; and HR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.89, respectively). Conclusions: This study is the first analysis of UNOS STAR data on recipient work status pre-HTx demonstrating: (1) an improvement in post-transplant survival for working HTx candidates; and (2) an association between working pre-HTx and longer post-HTx survival. Given that work status before HTx may be a modifiable risk factor for better outcomes after HTx, we strongly recommend that UNOS consider these important findings for moving forward this patient-centered research on work status. Working at listing and working at HTx are associated with long-term survival benefits. The association may be reciprocal, where working identifies less ill patients and also improves well-being. Consideration should be given to giving additional weight to work status during organ allocation. Work status may also be a modifiable factor associated with better post-HTx outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-610
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • UNOS database
  • employment status
  • heart transplant
  • post transplant-survival
  • work status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


Dive into the research topics of 'Does recipient work status pre-transplant affect post–heart transplant survival? A United Network for Organ Sharing database review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this