Liver Transplantation From Donors With a History of Malignancy: A Single-Center Experience

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The demand for transplantable organs exceeds donor organ supply. Transplantation of organs from donors with a history of malignancy remains controversial and the transmission of cancer in liver transplant recipients has not been sufficiently examined.


From 2002 until 2017, 83 livers from donors with a history of malignancy were transplanted at the University Hospital Essen, Germany. Donor and recipient data, type of malignancy, tumor-free interval at organ procurement, and follow-up data were analyzed.


Nine different tumor sites (central nervous system [n = 27], genitourinary [n = 24], breast [n = 10], skin [n = 8], colorectal [n = 5], lung [n = 3], hemato-oncological [n = 3], thyroid [n = 2], and larynx [n = 1]) were detected in 83 donors. The majority (58%) of donors had tumor-free intervals of less than 5 years versus 19% of 6 to 10 years versus 23% over 10 years. The risk of tumor transmission from donors was assessed as low in 44 (53%), intermediate in 28 (34%), and high in 11 (13%) cases. During median follow-up of 19.9 (0-155) months, none of the recipients developed donor-transmitted malignancy.


Liver transplantation with organs from donors with a medical history of malignancy is feasible, and the risk of donor-transmitted malignancy appears to be low in this single-center analysis. A careful selection of donors remains mandatory and can expand the donor pool.

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