Background: Understanding factors that contribute to liver discards and nonusage is urgently needed to improve organ utilization.
Methods: Using Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipient data, we studied a national cohort of all US adult, deceased brain dead donor, isolated livers available for transplantation from 2003 to 2016, including organ-specific and system-wide factors that may affect organ procurement and discard rates.
Results: Of 73 686 available livers, 65 316 (88.64%) were recovered for transplant, of which 6454 (9.88%) were ultimately discarded. Livers that were not procured or, on recovery, discarded were more frequently from older, heavier, hepatitis B virus (HCV)+, and more comorbid donors (P < 0.001). However, even after adjustment for organ quality, the odds of liver nonusage were 11% higher on the weekend (defined as donor procurements with cross-clamping occurring from 5:00 PM Friday until 11:59 AM Sunday) compared with weekdays (P < 0.001). Nonuse rates were also higher at night (P < 0.001), defined as donor procurements with cross-clamping occurring from 5:00 PM to 5:00 AM; however, weekend nights had significantly higher nonuse rates compared with weekday nights (P = 0.005). After Share 35, weekend nonusage rates decreased from 21.77% to 19.51% but were still higher than weekday nonusage rates (P = 0.065). Weekend liver nonusage was higher in all 11 United Network of Organ Sharing regions, with an absolute average of 2.00% fewer available livers being used on the weekend compared with weekdays.
Conclusions: Although unused livers frequently have unfavorable donor characteristics, there are also systemic and operational factors, including time of day and day of the week a liver becomes available, that impact the chance of liver nonprocurement and discard.