Hormonal resuscitation yields more transplanted hearts, with improved early function

Transplantation. 2003 Apr 27;75(8):1336-41. doi: 10.1097/01.TP.0000062839.58826.6D.


Background: Brain death results in cardiovascular instability and poor organ perfusion in many brain-dead donors. Hormonal resuscitation stabilizes certain brain-dead donors and is associated with significant increases in the numbers of organs transplanted per donor. The goal of this study was to examine the quality of hearts recovered from donors treated with hormonal resuscitation.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 4,543 recipients of hearts recovered from brain-dead donors, reported to the United Network for Organ Sharing/Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database between November 1, 1999, and December 31, 2001, was conducted. Hormonal resuscitation consisted of a methylprednisolone bolus and infusions of vasopressin and either triiodothyronine or l-thyroxine. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to evaluate the quality of hearts from donors who received three-drug hormonal resuscitation (3HR) treatment versus donors who did not receive all three drugs (non-3HR). Death within 30 days and early graft dysfunction were used as endpoints.

Results: Hearts from 3HR donors demonstrated a 1-month survival rate of 96.2%, compared with a 92.1% survival rate for non-3HR donor hearts (P<0.01). Early graft dysfunction occurred in 5.6% of 3HR donor hearts and 11.6% of non-3HR donor hearts (P<0.01). Multivariate results demonstrated a 46% reduced odds of death within 30 days and a 48% reduced odds of early graft dysfunction. Steroids alone and steroids plus triiodothyronine/l-thyroxine also significantly reduced prolonged graft dysfunction.

Conclusions: This study suggests that 3HR treatment of brain-dead donors results in increased numbers of transplanted hearts, with improved short-term graft function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Death*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Resuscitation / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue Survival
  • Triiodothyronine / therapeutic use
  • Vasopressins / therapeutic use


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hormones
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Vasopressins
  • Thyroxine
  • Methylprednisolone