Should lung transplantation be performed using donation after cardiac death? The United States experience

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2008 Oct;136(4):1061-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2008.04.023.


Objective: We compared 1) survival after lung transplantation of recipients of donation after cardiac death (DCD) versus brain death donor organs in the United States and 2) recipient characteristics.

Methods: Data were obtained from the United Network for Organ Sharing for lung transplantation from October 1987 to May 2007. Follow-up after DCD lung transplantation extended to 8.6 years, median 1 year. Differences among recipients of DCD versus brain death donor organs were expressed as a propensity score for use in comparing risk-adjusted survival.

Results: A total of 14,939 transplants were performed, 36 with DCD organs (9 single, 27 double). Among the 36 patients, 3 have died after 1 day, 11 days, and 1.5 years. Unadjusted survival at 1, 6, 12, and 24 months was 94%, 94%, 94%, and 87%, respectively, for DCD donors versus 92%, 84%, 78%, and 69%, respectively, for brain death donors (P = .04). DCD recipients were more likely to undergo double lung transplantation and have diabetes, lower forced 1-second expiratory volume, and longer cold ischemic times. Once these were accounted for and propensity adjusted, survival was still better for DCD recipients, although the P value equals .06.

Conclusion: Concern about organ quality and ischemia-reperfusion injury has limited the application of lung DCD. However, DCD as practiced in the United States results in survival at least equivalent to that after brain death donation. It also demonstrates selection bias, particularly in performing double lung transplantation, making generalization regarding survival difficult. Nevertheless, the data support the expanded use of DCD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Brain Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Death*
  • Donor Selection / ethics
  • Donor Selection / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Rejection
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation / methods
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / methods*
  • United States