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Transplant Proc. 2013 Oct;45(8):2871-4. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2013.08.037.

Japanese strategies to maximize heart and lung availabilities: experience from 100 consecutive brain-dead donors.

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Department of Therapeutics for End-Stage Organ Dysfunction, Osaka University. Electronic address:



Because the donor shortage is extremely severe in Japan because of a strict organ transplantation law, special strategies have been established to maximize heart and lung transplantations (HTs and LTs, respectively). We reviewed 100 consecutive brain-dead donors to evaluate our strategies to identify and manage heart and lung donors.


We retrospectively reviewed all 100 consecutive brain-dead donors procured since the law was issued in 1997. There were 56 mens and the overall mean donor age was 43.5 years. The causes of death were cerebrovascular disease (n = 62), head trauma (n = 20), and asphyxia (n = 16): Since November 2002, special transplant management doctors were sent to donor hospitals to assess cardiac and lung functions, seeking to identify transplant opportunities. They stabilized donor hemodynamics and lung function by administering antidiuretic hormone intravenously and performing bronchofibroscopy for pulmonary toilet.


Seventy-nine HTs, 1 heart-lung transplantations, and 78 LTs (46 single and 32 bilateral) were performed. By applying these strategies organs per donor were increased from 4.5 to 6.8. Among heart donors, 61/80 were marginal: high inotrope requirement (n = 29), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (n = 28), and/or >55 years old (n = 20). None of the 80 HT recipients died of primary graft failure (PGF). Patient survival rate at 10 years after HT was 95.4%. Among lung donors, 48/65 were marginal: pneumonia (n = 41), chest trauma (n = 4), and >55 years old (n = 9). Only 2/78 LT recipients died of PGF. Patient survival rate at 3 years after LT was 72.2%. After inducing frequent pulmonary toilet, lung procurement and patient survival rates increased significantly after LT.


Although the number of cases was still small, the availability of organs has been greater and the outcomes of HT/LT acceptable.

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