Liver Match, a prospective observational cohort study on liver transplantation in Italy: study design and current practice of donor-recipient matching

Dig Liver Dis. 2011 Feb;43(2):155-64. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2010.11.002. Epub 2010 Dec 24.


Background: The Liver Match is an observational cohort study that prospectively enrolled liver transplantations performed at 20 out of 21 Italian Transplant Centres between June 2007 and May 2009. Aim of the study is to investigate the impact of donor/recipient matching on outcomes. In this report we describe the study methodology and provide a cross-sectional description of donor and recipient characteristics and of graft allocation.

Methods: Adult primary transplants performed with deceased heart-beating donors were included. Relevant information on donors and recipients, organ procurement and allocation were prospectively entered in an ad hoc database within the National Transplant Centre web-based Network. Data were blindly analysed by an independent Biostatistical Board.

Results: The study enrolled 1530 donor/recipient matches. Median donor age was 56 years. Female donors (n = 681, median 58, range 12-92 years) were older than males (n = 849, median 53, range 2-97 years, p < 0.0001). Donors older than 60 years were 42.2%, including 4.2% octogenarians. Brain death was due to non-traumatic causes in 1126 (73.6%) cases. Half of the donor population was overweight, 10.1% was obese and 7.6% diabetic. Hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb) was present in 245 (16.0%) donors. The median Donor Risk Index (DRI) was 1.57 (>1.7 in 35.8%). The median cold ischaemia time was 7.3h (≥ 10 in 10.6%). Median age of recipients was 54 years, and 77.7% were males. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was the most frequent indication overall (44.4%), being a coindication in roughly 1/3 of cases, followed by viral cirrhosis without HCC (28.2%) and alcoholic cirrhosis without HCC (10.2%). Hepatitis C virus infection (with or without HCC) was the most frequent etiologic factor (45.9% of the whole population and 71.4% of viral-related cirrhosis), yet hepatitis B virus infection accounted for 28.6% of viral-related cirrhosis, and HBcAb positivity was found in 49.7% of recipients. The median Model for End Stage Liver Disease (MELD) at transplant was 12 in patients with HCC and 18 in those without. Multivariate analysis showed a slight but significant inverse association between DRI and MELD at transplant.

Conclusions: The deceased donor population in Italy has a high-risk profile compared to other countries, mainly due to older donor age. Almost half of the grafts are transplanted in recipients with HCC. Higher risk donors tend to be preferentially allocated to recipients with HCC, who are usually less ill and older. No other relevant allocation strategy is currently adopted at national level.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / surgery
  • Graft Survival
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists