Non-compliance in children post-liver transplant. Who are the culprits?


Non-compliance in children post-liver transplant. Who are the culprits?


Falkenstein K; Flynn L; Kirkpatrick B; Casa-Melley A; Dunn S


Pediatric Transplantation




Child; Female; Humans; Male; Survival Rate; Parents; Treatment Refusal; Socioeconomic Factors; Ambulatory Care; adolescent; Adolescent Transitions; Graft Rejection; Reoperation; Immunosuppressive Agents/therapeutic use; Liver Transplantation/mortality


Although non-compliance in pediatric liver transplants is known to be a major cause of late graft loss and patient mortality, follow-up seems inconsistent. As liver transplant becomes a luxury because of the shortage of organs, the need to maximize graft and patient survival by intense monitoring becomes a necessity. When evaluating children with elevated liver enzymes post-transplant, early or late non-compliance should always be suspected. The risk of non-compliance in children with chronic illness varies from 10 to 89%. In a study by Sudan et al. non-compliance was one of the leading causes of late mortality in children age 10-17 yr. Although it is well documented that teenagers have a high rate of non-compliance, the rate in the younger children has not been documented. In our series, we found that parental non-compliance comprises the majority of our problems with liver dysfunction, hospitalization, and graft loss. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of non-compliance in children post-liver transplant. A retrospective chart review of patient records from admissions and outpatient records was performed for documentation of elevated enzymes and low immunosuppressive levels. From July 1987 to December 2002, our program performed 266 liver transplants in 234 children, with 1-yr graft survival of 84% and 1-yr patient survival of 90%. Our overall patient survival was 85% with 77% graft survival. There were 40 children with documented non-compliance with mild to severe liver dysfunction in this study. Twenty-eight of these children were younger than 10 yr [28 of 40 (46%) <5 yr], and 12 (30%) were older than 10 yr at the time of rejection. In 10 of 40 children, there was one documented incident of non-compliance, while 26 of 40 had two to four incidents, and four had five or more documented events. Our children (50%) came from two-parent households. The remaining 50% were from single households. In 27 of 40 (68%) children, rejection was confirmed by liver biopsy. In children on cyclosporine (Neoral; Novartis, East Hanover, NJ, USA) with a known history of non-compliance and low immunosuppressive levels, C2 monitoring was performed to verify absorption. Admission for drug monitoring and verification of non-compliance was accomplished in 32 of 40 (80%). Four of the 40 children (10%) were retransplanted, and one child had died. In conclusion, non-adherence to medications remains a major source of graft loss and morbidity post-transplant. We found that non-compliance crosses all socio-economic and cultural groups and that flexibility of clinic hours, shortened time between visits, and decreased numbers and times of medication will increase adherence.


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Falkenstein K; Flynn L; Kirkpatrick B; Casa-Melley A; Dunn S, “Non-compliance in children post-liver transplant. Who are the culprits?,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed February 23, 2024,