Extracorporeal Support for Organ Donation after Cardiac Death Effectively Expands the Donor Pool

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Background:We sought to evaluate the effect on short-term outcomes of normothermic, extracorporeal perfusion (ECMO) for donation of abdominal organs for transplantation after cardiac death (DCD). Study parameters included increase in number of donors and organs, types of organs procured, and viability of kidneys transplanted.Methods:We retrospectively reviewed medical record data for all patients enrolled in our ECMO-supported DCD donor protocol between October 1, 2000, and February 2, 2004. We also reviewed the records for all patients undergoing organ donation after brain-death (DBD) during the study period at our institution. Recipient data were obtained and analyzed for all kidneys procured from both groups.Results:Twenty patients were enrolled in our DCD protocol and underwent attempted organ donation. Fifteen patients completed the protocol; 3 maintained cardiac function throughout the prescribed 60 minutes after withdrawal of life support, and two patients’ organs were deemed unsuitable for transplantation. Fourteen (70%) of the DCD donor patients originated on the trauma service and six (30%) were from other clinical services. The DCD program increased the potential donor pool by 33% (61 versus 81 patients) and the number of kidneys transplanted by 24% (100 versus 124). A total of 24 kidney, 5 liver, and 1 pancreas transplants were performed with these organs. Two of 24 (8.3%) DCD kidneys had delayed graft function. There were no perioperative rejection episodes or deaths.Conclusion:The implementation of a DCD protocol using extracorporeal perfusion increased the potential organ donor pool at our institution by 33%. This was accomplished without short term adverse effect on organ function compared with kidneys transplanted from DBD donors.

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