BACKGROUND Transplantation of liver grafts from deceased donors who experienced cardiac arrest prior to liver procurement is now common. This single-center study analyzed the impact of pre-donation arrest time on clinical outcomes in liver transplantation. MATERIAL AND METHODS Records of all orthotopic liver transplants performed at a single center over a 15-year period were reviewed. Donor records were reviewed and total arrest time was calculated as cumulative minutes. Post-transplant liver graft function was assessed using laboratory values. Graft survival was assessed with Cox regression analysis. RESULTS Records for 1830 deceased donor transplants were reviewed, and 521 donors experienced pre-procurement cardiac arrest (28%). Median arrest time was 21 min (mean 25 min, range 1-120 min). After transplant, the peak alanine aminotransferase and bilirubin levels for liver grafts from donors with arrest were lower compared to those for donors without arrest (p<0.001). Early allograft dysfunction occurred in 25% (arrest) and 28% (no arrest) of patients (p=0.22). There were no differences in risk of early graft loss (3% vs. 3%, p=0.84), length of hospital stay (10 vs. 10 days, p=0.76), and 1-year graft survival (89% vs. 89%, p=0.94). Cox regression analysis comparing 4 groups (no arrest, <20 min, 20-40 min, and >40 min arrest) demonstrated no statistically significant difference in survival at 10 years. Subgroup analysis of 93 donation after cardiac death grafts showed no significant difference for these same outcomes. CONCLUSIONS These results support the use of select deceased liver donors who experience pre-donation cardiac arrest. Pre-donation arrest may be associated with less early allograft dysfunction, but had no impact on long-term clinical outcomes. The results for donation after cardiac death donors were similar.
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