BACKGROUND: Previous reports have established the feasibility of using livers from controlled, non-heart-beating donors (CNHBD) with good immediate graft function. This has been largely borne out of necessity because of the donor shortage. METHODS: Retrospective database review for the last 7 years (1995-2002), encompassing 19 patients receiving CNHBD, with follow-up period of 1,000 +/- 694 days, median 762 days. Detailed review of recipient characteristics, operative and clinical course, immunosuppression, complications, survival rates, and comparison with the results obtained in patients receiving transplants of allografts procured in standard fashion, from heart-beating donors RESULTS: Kaplan-Meier patient survival rates were 100%, 89.5%, and 83.5% at 30 days, 1, and 2 years, respectively, which is not different from recipients of livers procured from heart-beating cadaveric donors (P=0.74, log-rank test). Five patients died at a mean follow-up time of 492 (range 46-1,103) days. The causes of death were related to secondary sclerosing cholangitis (n=1), cardiac failure (n=1), and sepsis (n=3). Two (10.5%) recipients underwent retransplantation, one for primary graft nonfunction and one because of biliary cast syndrome with cholangitis. Significant preservation damage (ALT>2,000) developed in five patients, but this did not affect survival. The incidence of vascular (15.6% vs. 9.6%, P=0.34) and biliary complications (10.55 vs. 13.8%, P=0.68) was no different than for those recipients receiving standard cadaveric donors. CONCLUSIONS: CNHBD safely expands the donor pool with similar long-term results as those obtained in patients receiving organs from brain-dead donors under standard procurement techniques.
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