Decline in available liver transplants expected

January 10, 2013

A new study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Health Resources and Services Administration, and published in the January 2013 issue of Liver Transplantation, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), found that the non-use of donor livers climbed through 2010 due to a worsening of donor liver quality, primarily from donation following cardiac death. Diabetes, donor age, and body mass index (BMI) were also linked to a decrease in use of organs.

"For patients with end-stage liver disease, transplantation is the only option for extending life, but organ availability places constraints on the transplant community," explains Dr. Eric Orman with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. "One of the methods to increase the donor pool is to include donors with less than ideal health status--those with fatty livers, older donors, and donation after cardiac death."

In an attempt to increase available livers for transplant, the transplant community has gradually extended donation criteria. However, previous research shows that poor outcomes may occur following transplant of more inferior organs. In fact, studies have shown an increased recipient morbidity and mortality risk with donation after cardiac death (when circulation ceases) than with standard donation following brain death in which donor circulation is sustained.

For the present study researchers used data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to indentify 107,259 deceased donors in U.S. between 1988 and 2010. Donors were 18 years of age and older who had a least one organ (liver, heart, intestine, kidney, lung or pancreas) used for transplantation. The mean donor age was 44 years; 41% were female and 68% were white. Split liver donations and donors with BMI less than 14 kg/m2 or more than 50 kg/m2 were excluded.

Analysis indicates that 41,503 donations occurred after June 30, 2004 with 82% of livers used for transplant and 18% unused. The number of unused livers decreased from 1,958 (66% of donors) in 1988 to 841 (15%) in 2004, and then increased to 1,345 (21%) in 2010. Liver non-use was independently linked to older donor age, greater BMI, diabetes prevalence and donation after cardiac death--all of which are on the rise in the U.S.

Researchers reported a four-fold increase in the odds of non-use of livers from donation following cardiac death donors between 2004 and 2010, with the proportion of nonuse climbing from 9% to 28% during the same time period. "Our findings show nonuse of livers for transplantation is steadily rising, and is primarily due to donation after cardiac death," concludes Dr. Orman. "If these trends continue, a significant decline in liver transplant availability would be inevitable."

In a related editorial also published in Liver Transplantation, Dr. Anton Skaro from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill. concurs, "Utilization of livers donated after cardiac death increases risk of biliary complications, greater costs and higher graft failure rates, resulting in a reduction of liver transplants using organs donated after cardiac death in the U.S. since 2006." Dr. Skaro suggests that liver transplantation using organs donated after cardiac death should be encouraged for recipients who would have poor outcomes by remaining on the waitlist.
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This study and editorial are published in Liver Transplantation. Media wishing to receive a PDF of the articles may contact sciencenewsroom@wiley.com.

Full citations: "Declining Liver Utilization for Transplant in the United States and the Impact of Donation after Cardiac Death." Eric S. Orman, A. Sidney Barritt IV, Stephanie B. Wheeler, Paul H. Hayashi. Liver Transplantation; (DOI: 10.1002/lt.23547) Print Issue Date: January, 2013.
URL:http://www.doi.wiley.com/10.1002/lt.23547

Editorial: "Donation after Cardiac Death Liver Transplantation: Another Fly in the Ointment." Neehar D. Parikh and Anton I. Skaro. Liver Transplantation; (DOI: 10.1002/lt.23563) Print Issue Date: January, 2013.
URL:http://www.doi.wiley.com/10.1002/lt.23563

Author Contact: Media wishing to speak with Dr. Orman may contact Les Lang with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at llang@med.unc.edu.

About the Journal

Liver Transplantation is published by Wiley on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the International Liver Transplantation Society. Since the first application of liver transplantation in a clinical situation was reported more than twenty years ago, there has been a great deal of growth in this field and more is anticipated. As an official publication of the AASLD and the ILTS, Liver Transplantation delivers current, peer-reviewed articles on surgical techniques, clinical investigations and drug research -- the information necessary to keep abreast of this evolving specialty. For more information, please visit http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/livertransplantation.

About Wiley

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace. Wiley is a global provider of content and content-enabled workflow solutions in areas of scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly research; professional development; and education. Our core businesses produce scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising; professional books, subscription products, certification and training services and online applications; and education content and services including integrated online teaching and learning resources for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley's global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company's Web site can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com. The Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb.

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