[High donor age for liver transplantation : Tackling organ scarcity in Germany]

Chirurg. 2019 Sep;90(9):744-751. doi: 10.1007/s00104-019-0801-z.
[Article in German]


Background: Liver transplantation is the only curative treatment option for patients with end-stage liver disease; however, the 40% decline of available organ donors in recent years in Germany necessitates the optimization of available resources and possibly extending the criteria to older donors.

Material and methods: All 2652 livers made available to the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin from 2010 to 2016 were retrospectively analyzed and the clinical outcome of 526 liver transplantations during this time frame were evaluated.

Results: The median age of donors of transplanted organs increased from 49.3 years in 2010 to 57.3 years in 2016 (p = 0.02). Organs from donors ≥65 years were more frequently discarded than organs from younger donors (n = 344, 18.4% vs. n = 220, 28.1%; p = 0.005). Moreover, the older donors had higher rates of diabetes mellitus and hepatic steatosis. Organs from older donors had a higher donor risk index (2.8 vs. 2.2; p < 0.001) and were transplanted more often in patients with preserved liver function and hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cirrhosis (n = 121, 74.7% of indications). The 3‑year survival after liver transplantation from donors ≥65 and ≥80 years old was not significantly reduced in comparison to younger donors; however, there was an increased retransplantation rate (28.6%; p = 0.005) after transplantation of organs from donors ≥80 years old.

Conclusion: Despite conservative organ acceptance there were higher rates of retransplantation after transplantation from very old donors. In the light of an increasing scarcity of suitable organs this mandates caution and highlights the need for adequate assessment instruments for marginal donor organs before transplantation.

Keywords: Aged, 80 and over; Donor selection; Liver transplantation; Population dynamics; Resource allocation.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Berlin
  • Germany
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Treatment Outcome