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Br J Surg. 2012 Jun;99(6):839-47. doi: 10.1002/bjs.8755. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Comparison of liver transplantation outcomes from adult split liver and circulatory death donors.

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Cambridge Transplant Centre, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.



Adult whole-organ donation after circulatory death (DCD) and 'split' extended right lobe donation after brain death (ERL-DBD) liver transplants are considered marginal, but direct comparison of outcomes has rarely been performed. Such a comparison may rationalize the use of DCD livers, which varies widely between UK centres.


Outcomes for adult ERL-DBD livers and 'controlled' DCD liver transplantations performed at the Cambridge Transplant Centre between January 2004 and December 2010 were compared retrospectively.


None of the 32 patients in the DCD cohort suffered early graft failure, compared with five of 17 in the ERL-DBD cohort. Reasons for graft failure were hepatic artery thrombosis (3), progressive cholestasis (1) and small-for-size syndrome (1). Early allograft dysfunction occurred in a further five patients in each group. In the DCD group, ischaemic cholangiopathy developed in six patients, resulting in graft failure within the first year in two; the others remained stable. The incidence of biliary anastomotic complications was similar in both groups. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis confirmed superior graft survival in the DCD liver group (93 per cent at 3 years versus 71 per cent in the ERL-DBD cohort; P = 0·047), comparable to that of contemporaneous whole DBD liver transplants (93 per cent at 3 years). Patient survival was similar in all groups.


Graft outcomes of DCD liver transplants were better than those of ERL-DBD liver transplants. Redefining DCD liver criteria and refining donor-recipient selection for ERL-DBD transplants should be further explored.

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