The Potential Impact of Using Donations After Cardiac Death on the Liver Transplantation Program and Waiting List in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Liver transplantation was first performed at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in 1968. Since then, the patient waiting list for liver transplantation has increased at a rate of 150 new cases per month. Liver transplantation itself rose 1.84-fold (from 160 to 295) from 1988 to 2004. However, the number of patients on the liver waiting list jumped 2.71-fold (from 553 to 1500). Consequently, the number of deaths on the liver waiting list moved to a higher level, from 321 to 671, increasing 2.09-fold. We have applied a mathematical model to analyze the potential impact of using a donation after cardiac death (DCD) policy on our liver transplantation program and on the waiting list. Five thousand one hundred people died because of accidents and other violent causes in our state in 2004; of these, only 295 were donors of liver grafts that were transplanted. The model assumed that 5% of these grafts would have been DCD. We found a relative reduction of 27% in the size of the liver transplantation waiting list if DCD had been used by assuming that 248 additional liver transplants would have been performed annually. In conclusion, the use of DCD in our transplantation program would reduce the pressure on our liver transplantation waiting list, reducing it by at least 27%. On the basis of this model, the projected number of averted deaths is about 41,487 in the next 20 years.

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