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Acta Chir Belg. 2000 Nov-Dec;100(6):268-71.

Non beating heart donors as a possible source for liver transplantation.

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  • 1Institut de Malalties Digestives, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.


Organ shortage for liver transplantation continues to be a major problem. Non heart beating donors (NHBD) are gaining increasing importance as a potential source of transplantable organs for clinical use, mainly in kidney transplantation. Up to now, the experience in liver transplantation with this type of donors has been limited and has only been considered in donors in whom cardiac arrest (CA) has occurred at a known given time. This is due to the high risk of primary non-function and late complications related to intrahepatic biliary lesions when warm ischemia time (WIT) is not controlled. The method of retrieval of these organs should offer the possibility to stop liver injury, revert histologic lesions appeared after WIT, and to assess the quality of the potential donor liver. Based on the experience of kidney transplantation, total body cooling achieved by extracorporal cardiopulmonary bypass seems to be the best method. Moreover it allows the inclusion of a time for tissue oxygenation at 37 degrees C (Normothermic Recirculation, NR) prior to body cooling which has been shown to improve graft viability, and also allows a time to measure organ quality before transplantation. In our experience, we demonstrated that liver transplantation from NHBD is feasible; NR has beneficial effect on liver viability improving endothelial cell damage, hepatocyte energy charge and histological changes at 5 days. We also showed that time of cardiac arrest is determinant of graft viability; even if hepatocellular function is preserved after 40 minutes of CA using NR, irreversible intrahepatic biliary lesions are always present and burden long-term survival. Moreover, bypass pump and blood flows are directly related to WIT and the achievement of better pump flows may predict survival during NR. In animals with 40 minutes of CA, we also reported the possibility to manipulate the potential graft during NR with L-Arginine, Glycine and S-Adenosyl-Methyonine, which minimize endothelial and hepatocellular damage as well as lesions at 5 days. Further research needs to be done in order to confirm our experimental data.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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