BACKGROUND: Cirrhotic patients with Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score ≥40 have high risk for death without liver transplant (LT).OBJECTIVE: To evaluate these patients’ outcomes after LT.METHODS: The present study analyzed a retrospective cohort of 519 cirrhotic adult patients who underwent LT at a single Canadian centre between 2002 and 2012. Primary exposure was severity of liver disease measured by MELD score at LT (≥40 versus <40). Primary outcome was duration of first intensive care unit (ICU) stay after LT. Secondary outcomes were duration of first hospital stay after LT, rate of ICU readmission, re-LT and survival rates.RESULTS: On the day of LT, 5% (28 of 519) of patients had a MELD score ≥40. These patients had longer first ICU stays after LT (14 versus two days; P<0.001). MELD score ≥40 at LT was independently associated with first ICU stay after LT ≥10 days (OR 3.21). These patients had longer first hospital stays after LT (45 versus 18 days; P<0.001); however, there was no significant difference in the rate of ICU readmission (18% versus 22%; P=0.58) or re-LT rate (4% versus 4%; P=1.00). Cumulative survival at one month, three months, one year, three years and five years was 98%, 96%, 90%, 79% and 72%, respectively. There was no significant difference in cumulative survival stratified according to MELD score ≥40 versus <40 at LT (P=0.59).CONCLUSIONS: Cirrhotic patients with MELD score ≥40 at LT utilize greater postoperative health resources; however, they derive similar long-term survival benefit from LT.