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Transplantation. 2003 Dec 27;76(12):1714-9.

How to improve the quality of kidneys from non-heart-beating donors: a randomised controlled trial of thrombolysis in non-heart-beating donors.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, The Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6BE, England, UK.



The growth in the prevalence of end-stage renal failure has been accompanied with a rise in the waiting list for renal transplantation, which has not been matched by an increase in the kidney donor pool. Non-heart-beating donors (NHBD) offer a potential source of kidneys that are not currently being significantly used. Cardiac arrest for a protracted period of time leads to in situ thrombosis, and, as a consequence, the discard rates for harvested kidneys is higher than brain-stem-dead donors.


A double-blinded, randomised, controlled trial of streptokinase preflush or placebo for NHBD was performed. An initial 30 donors were entered into the study. After routine nephrectomy, NHBD kidneys were machine perfused as part of viability screening before transplantation. Kidneys were then transplanted within 24 hours of cardiac arrest. The primary objectives were the improvements of viability parameters (perfusion, enzyme levels, and histopathology) of the kidneys. The secondary objective was to increase the number of kidneys passing the viability tests and thus transplanted.


The two groups of NHBD donors and their kidneys were similar in their descriptive epidemiologic characteristics. The NHBD kidneys from the streptokinase-treated donors had a better appearance at procurement (P<0.001) and performed better during machine preservation (P<0.001). Enzyme biomarkers present in the kidney perfusate were all significantly reduced by the use of streptokinase. These included glutathione S-transferase (P<0.001), fatty acid binding protein (P<0.001), and alanine aminopeptidase (P<0.001). However, although there was a higher proportion of kidneys transplanted through the use of streptokinase (63.6% with streptokinase vs. 42.6% with placebo), this did not achieve significance. There was no difference with respect to postoperative bleeding and transfusion requirements in the recipient whether streptokinase preflush or placebo was used.


This study using streptokinase preflush in the NHBD was found to improve the condition of the kidneys retrieved. The improvement in the quality of the donor kidneys was not associated with an increased morbidity in the recipient.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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