Utilization of Declined Liver Grafts Yields Comparable Transplant Outcomes and Previous Decline Should Not Be a Deterrent to Graft Use

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Abstract

Background

In the United Kingdom, up to 20% of liver graft offers are not used for transplantation, and the reasons for graft refusal are multifactorial and not consistent among transplant units.

Methods

Liver grafts previously declined by other transplant centers in the United Kingdom but transplanted in our unit in Birmingham between 2011 and 2015 were analyzed. According to the indicated reason for previous declines, liver grafts were categorized into 3 refusal groups: “quality,” “logistics,” and “other reasons.” Results were compared with a matched, low-risk cohort of livers primarily accepted and transplanted at our center.

Results

During the study period, 206 livers (donation after brain death: n = 141 (68.4%); donation after circulatory arrest: n = 65 (31.6%) were transplanted, which were previously discarded by a median of 4 other UK centers. The majority of declines were donor quality (n = 102; 49.5%), refusals followed by logistics (n = 45; 21.8%), and other reasons (n = 59; 28.6%). Transplantation from both graft types (donation after brain death and donation after circulatory arrest) and all 3 refusal groups achieved equally good outcomes with an overall low complication rate. The incidence of primary nonfunction (2.4% vs 1.7%; P = 0.5483), in-hospital mortality (6.3% vs 4.1%; P = 0.2293) and 3-year graft (82.5% vs 84.1%; P = 0.6872) and patient (85.4% vs 87.6%; P = 0.8623) survival was comparable between livers previously declined and livers primarily accepted and transplanted at our center.

Conclusions

Transplantation of declined livers can achieve comparable outcomes to primary liver low-risk graft offers. Previous refusal should not be taken as a barrier to use the graft, and with appropriate recipient selection, more lives could be saved.

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