Liver transplant using donation after circulatory death donors: A low-volume single-center experience


Transplant Center, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center


OBJECTIVES: Although donor shortages have prompted increased use of livers from donors after circulatory death, data are limited on their outcomes in low-volume centers and their applicability in this setting.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed liver transplants from donors after circulatory death performed at our low-volume center over a 7-year period and identified predictors of outcomes.

RESULTS: Between 2007 and 2014, of 196 liver transplants (mean 28/year), donations after circulatory death accounted for 31%. Patient/liver graft survival rates were similar in recipients of brain dead donor versus circulatory death donor allografts (P = .47 and P = .87 respectively): 88.4% versus 85.7%/87.7 versus 86.3% at 1 year, 78.5 versus 74.2%/76.5% versus 75.4% at 3 years, and 70.8% versus 62.0%/65.1% versus 63.7% at 5 years. Multivariable analysis identified recipients with hepatitis C virus from donors >50 years old as an independent predictor of graft and patient survival (P < .01). Biliary complications trended higher in recipients of circulatory death donor livers. Among solitary liver transplant recipients, although biliary complications adversely affected graft survival in both groups (circulatory death vs brain dead donor cohorts, P = .02 vs P = .03), patient survival was only affected in the circulatory death donor cohort (P = .01). However, when all transplants were included in graft loss modeling, presence of biliary complications significantly impacted graft survival only in recipients of livers from circulatory death donors (P < .01). Among biliary complications, ischemic cholangiopathy had the greatest impact on graft loss (P ≤ .01).

CONCLUSIONS: Donation after circulatory death allografts could be safely used to expand the donor pool even in low-volume liver transplant centers. Outcomes were comparable to grafts from donors after brain death, although biliary complications, mainly because of ischemic cholangiopathy, had a greater effect on liver transplants from circulatory death donors. Efforts to minimize ischemic cholangiopathy could enable their greater utilization, regardless of center volume, without compromising outcomes.

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