Graft and patient survival rates after transplantation of ABO-incompatible liver allografts have been poor. We used plasmapheresis and a potent immunosuppressive regimen to control hemagglutinin levels and prevent early rejection. Ten patients who had a United Network for Organ Sharing status of 4 received ABO-incompatible allografts. Quadruple immunosuppression consisted of OKT3, Cytoxan, cyclosporine,and steroid taper; prostaglandin E-l was administrated intravenously the first week. All patients underwent perioperative plasmapheresis to maintain hemagglutinin levels <1:16. Patient survival was 80%; graft survival was 60% at 140-505 days. The rejection rate was 90%. Three recipients (A1 → O) lost their grafts to severe rejection at 5, 12, and 30 days after transplantation. All 3 had pretransplantation hemagglutinin levels ≥1:100. Elevated hemagglutinin levels preceded the diagnosis of severe acute cellular rejection; plasmapheresis failed to lower anti-A titers in these 3 patients. We conclude that in an urgent setting, lowering of preformed hemagglutinins via plasmapheresis in combination with quadruple induction immunosuppression allows liver transplantation across ABO barriers. In patients with high baseline levels of preformed hemagglutinins, the risk of subsequent graft loss may be increased and transplantation with an ABO-incompatible graft may serve as a lifesaving intermediate step.
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