Background: Currently the most important limitation in lung transplantation is donor availability. Although liberalization of donor criteria may aid in expanding the donor pool, the long-term effects of the use of "marginal" or "extended" donors remains unexplored.
Methods: In this study, we included all patients who underwent lung transplantation from January 1996 to December 1999 at Loyola University Medical Center. We categorized patients as either receiving lungs from an "ideal" donor or an "extended" donor. Extended donors were defined as having any 1 of the following criteria: donor age > 55 years, tobacco history > 20 pack years, presence of infiltrate on chest x-ray, donor ventilator time > 5 days, or donor use of inhaled drugs (cocaine or marijuana). We then compared the 2 groups with regard to short-term (operating room [OR] complications, intensive care unit [ICU] complications) and long-term outcomes (1-year pulmonary function and survival).
Results: Sixty-one (54%) patients received lungs from ideal donors and 52 (46%) patients received lungs from extended donors as defined above. We observed no significant differences between the 2 groups in OR complications (cardiopulmonary bypass, bleeding complications, life-threatening arrhythmias) or ICU complications (pneumonia, airway dehiscence, reoperation within 30 days related to transplantation). In addition, the 2 groups had similar median intubation times (21 hours in the ideal donor group and 20 hours in the extended donor group; p = n.s.), hospital length of stay (14+/-12 days in the ideal donor group and 12+/-8 days in the extended donor group; p = n.s.), and hospital survival (80% and 88% in the ideal and extended donor groups, respectively). One-year follow-up revealed similar pulmonary function (forced expiratory volume in 1 sec [FEV(1)] = 2.4 liters and 2.4 liters in the recipients of bilateral ideal and extended donors, respectively, and FEV(1) = 1.9 liters and 1.5 liters in the recipients of single ideal and extended donors) and survival (72% and 79% in the ideal and extended donor groups, respectively; p = n.s.) between the 2 groups.
Conclusions: Liberalization of donor criteria does not affect outcome in the first year after lung transplantation. By liberalizing donor criteria, we can expand the donor pool while assessing other possible mechanisms to increase donor availability.