ABO-incompatible heart transplants

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A month-old baby girl with blood type O positive received a donor heart organ from a donor with blood type B. This was the first institutional ABO-incompatible heart transplant.

Infants listed for transplantation may be considered for an ABO-incompatible heart transplant based on their antibody levels and age. The United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) protocol is infants under 24 months with titers less than or equal to 1:4.1

This recipient's anti-A and anti-B antibodies were monitored with titer assays to determine their levels; antibody levels less than 1:4 are acceptable pre-transplant in order to proceed with donor and transplant arrangements.1 Immediately prior to initiating cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), a complete whole body exchange transfusion of at least two-times the patient's circulating blood volume was performed with packed red blood cells (pRBC), fresh frozen plasma (FFP) and 25% albumin. Titer assays were sent two minutes after initiation of full CPB and then hourly until the cross-clamp was removed. Institutionally, reperfusion of the donor heart is not restored until the antibody level from the titer assay is known and reported as less than 1:4; failing to achieve an immulogically tolerant recipient will provide conditions for hyperacute rejection. The blood collected during the transfusion exchange was immediately processed through a cell saver so the pRBC's could be re-infused to the patient during CPB, as necessary. The remainder of the transplant was performed in the same fashion as an ABO-compatible heart transplant. The patient has shown no signs of rejection following transplantation.

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