Scientific article
Open access

Utilization of livers donated after circulatory death for transplantation - An international comparison

Published inJournal of hepatology, vol. 78, no. 5, p. 1007-1016
Publication date2023-05
First online date2023-02-03

Background & aims: Liver graft utilization rates are a hot topic due to the worldwide organ shortage and the increasing number of transplant candidates on waiting lists. Liver perfusion techniques have been introduced in several countries, and may help to increase the organ supply, as they potentially enable the assessment of livers before use.

Methods: Liver offers were counted from donation after circulatory death (DCD) donors (Maastricht type III) arising during the past decade in eight countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. Initial type-III DCD liver offers were correlated with accepted, recovered and implanted livers.

Results: A total number of 34,269 DCD livers were offered, resulting in 9,780 liver transplants (28.5%). The discard rates were highest in the UK and US, ranging between 70 and 80%. In contrast, much lower DCD liver discard rates, e.g. between 30-40%, were found in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In addition, we observed large differences in the use of various machine perfusion techniques, as well as in graft and donor risk factors. For example, the median donor age and functional donor warm ischemia time were highest in Italy, e.g. >40 min, followed by Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands. Importantly, such varying risk profiles of accepted DCD livers between countries did not translate into large differences in 5-year graft survival rates, which ranged between 60-82% in this analysis.

Conclusions: Overall, DCD liver discard rates across the eight countries were high, although this primarily reflects the situation in the Netherlands, the UK and the US. Countries where in situ and ex situ machine perfusion strategies were used routinely had better DCD utilization rates without compromised outcomes.

Impact and implications: A significant number of Maastricht type III DCD livers are discarded across Europe and North America today. The overall utilization rate among eight Western countries is 28.5% but varies significantly between 18.9% and 74.2%. For example, the median DCD-III liver utilization in five countries, e.g. Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain is 65%, in contrast to 24% in the Netherlands, UK and US. Despite this, and despite different rules and strategies for organ acceptance and preservation, 1- and 5-year graft survival rates remain fairly similar among all participating countries. A highly varying experience with modern machine perfusion technology was observed. In situ and ex situ liver perfusion concepts, and application of assessment tools for type-III DCD livers before transplantation, may be a key explanation for the observed differences in DCD-III utilization.

  • Assessment of liver quality
  • Donor risk
  • Liver utilization
  • Machine perfusion
  • Outcome
Citation (ISO format)
EDEN, Janina et al. Utilization of livers donated after circulatory death for transplantation - An international comparison. In: Journal of hepatology, 2023, vol. 78, n° 5, p. 1007–1016. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2023.01.025
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ISSN of the journal0168-8278

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