The Implications of the Shift Toward Donation After Circulatory Death in Australia

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In recent years, an increasing number of donor livers are being declined for transplantation in Australia. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of donation after cardiac death and other factors associated with organ quality on liver utilization rates in Australia.


Data on organ donors who donated at least 1 organ between 2005 and 2014 were obtained from the Australia and New Zealand organ donation registry. Temporal changes in donor characteristics were assessed and a logistical regression analysis was performed to evaluate their association with liver nonuse.


The number of organ donors increased from 175 in 2005 to 344 in 2014, with overall 19% being donation after cardiac death donors (P < 0.001). The percentage of livers deemed unsuitable for transplantation increased from 24% in 2005 to 41% in 2014 (P < 0.001). Donation after cardiac death was identified as the most important risk factor for nonuse with an odds ratio of 25.88 (95% confidence interval, 18.84-35.56), P < 0.001) followed by donor age, obesity, and diabetes.


This study shows that livers donated after circulatory death are an underused resource in Australia. Better use of these currently available organs would be a highly cost-effective way of reducing waiting list mortality in liver transplantation.

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