Vascularized composite tissue allotransplant recipients are often highly sensitized to human leukocyte antigens because of multiple prior blood transfusions and other reconstructive operations. The use of peripheral blood obtained from dead donors for crossmatching may be insufficient because of life support measures taken for the donor before donation. No study has been published investigating human leukocyte antigen matching practices in this field.Methods:
A survey addressing human leukocyte antigen crossmatching methods was generated and sent to 22 vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation centers with active protocols worldwide. Results were compiled by center and compared using two-tailed t tests.Results:
Twenty of 22 centers (91 percent) responded to the survey. Peripheral blood was the most commonly reported donor sample for vascularized composite tissue allotransplant crossmatching [78 percent of centers (n = 14)], with only 22 percent (n = 4) using lymph nodes. However, 56 percent of the 18 centers (n = 10) that had performed vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation reported that they harvested lymph nodes for crossmatching. Of responding individuals, 62.5 percent (10 of 16 individuals) felt that lymph nodes were the best donor sample for crossmatching.Conclusions:
A slight majority of vascularized composite tissue allotransplant centers that have performed clinical transplants have used lymph nodes for human leukocyte antigen matching, and centers appear to be divided on the utility of lymph node harvest. The use of lymph nodes may offer a number of potential benefits. This study highlights the need for institutional review board–approved crossmatching protocols specific to vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation, and the need for global databases for sharing of vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation experiences.