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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2019 Mar;38(3):295-305. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2018.12.012. Epub 2018 Dec 21.

Implications of declining donor offers with increased risk of disease transmission on waiting list survival in lung transplantation.

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Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Electronic address:
Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.
School of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.



Donors with characteristics that may increase the likelihood of disease transmission with transplantation are noted as increased risk via Public Health Service criteria. This study aimed to establish the implications of declining an increased-risk donor (IRD) organ offer in lung transplantation.


Adult candidates waitlisted for isolated lung transplantation in the United States using the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network /United Network of Organ Sharing registry from 2007 to 2017 were identified. Individual match run files identified candidate recipients who matched to an IRD offer. Competing-risks analysis ascertained the likelihood of survival to transplantation. A stratified Cox model and restricted mean survival times estimated the survival benefit associated with the acceptance of an IRD organ.


A total of 6,963 candidates met inclusion criteria, and 1,473 (21.2%) accepted an IRD offer. Candidates who accepted an IRD offer were older, more likely to be male, and had a higher lung allocation score at the time of listing (all p < 0.05). At 1 year after an IRD offer decline, 70.5% of candidates underwent a lung transplant, 13.8% died or decompensated, and 14.9% were still awaiting transplant. Compared with those who declined, candidates who accepted the IRD offer had significantly improved cumulative mortality at 1 year (14.1% vs 23.9%, p < 0.001) and 5 years (48.4% vs 53.8%, p < 0.001).


IRD organ declination is associated with a decreased rate of lung transplantation and worse survival. Overall post-transplant survival rates for those who survive to transplantation are equivalent.


increased-risk donor; lung transplant; organ allocation; post-transplant survival; waiting list survival

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