Non-heart-beating Donors: Renewed Source of Organs for Renal Transplantation during the Twenty-first Century
The growing demand of organs for renal transplantation makes it necessary to explore alternative routes for kidney donation. Non-heart-beating donors (NHBDs) are a valuable source of cadaveric organs and have been the subject of renewed interest in recent years. In addition to difficulties with legal and ethical acceptability, there are concerns regarding medical safety. The current NHBD program at St. George’s Hospital in London was started in March 1995. A total of 41 kidneys from category I to III donors (according to the Maastricht classification) were retrieved from the Accident and Emergency Department and several intensive care units and were subsequently transplanted. Cold in situ perfusion was commenced via femoral access or rapid aortic cannulation in most donors. Of these transplanted kidneys, 35 started functioning within 4 weeks. The permanent nonfunction (PNF) rate was 14.6% (6/41) and the estimated 1-year graft survival 82.9% (34/41). The delayed graft function (DGF) rate (defined as recipients requiring posttransplant dialysis for 3 days or longer) was 80.0% (28/35). The median serum creatinine concentration in patients with a functioning graft at 1 year was 165 μmol/L. NHBD kidneys have contributed about 15% to the regional transplant activity over the last 6 years, even though not all potential NHBDs were used. It was possible to lower the PNF rate with strict donor selection criteria and more recently with pulsatile machine perfusion. NHBDs represent a valuable source for kidneys and can extend the donor pool. More experience is currently needed to continue to lower PNF rates reliably before promoting more widespread use of NHBDs for renal transplantation.
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