Successful preservation and transplant of warm ischaemic lungs from controlled donors after circulatory death by prolonged in situ ventilation during normothermic regional perfusion of abdominal organs

Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2019 Nov 1;29(5):699-705. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivz160.


Objectives: Donation after circulatory death (DCD) potentially provides transplantable lungs suitable for a transplant, but in Italy, the need for 20 min of a no-touch period after cardiac arrest for legal declaration of death poses real challenges to organ preservation.

Methods: This is a single-institution, retrospective study using data collected prospectively between October and December 2017. After the approval of the multidisciplinary DCD study group of Regione Lombardia, Maastricht category III DCD donors became eligible for combined procurement of lungs and abdominal organs. Our group subsequently established a dedicated technical protocol. Our protocol consists of a non-rapid normothermic open-lung procurement process that takes place during abdominal normothermic regional perfusion, namely without pleural topical cooling before the start of pneumoplegia. After the lung is procured according to the technique described in the article, lung function is evaluated by ex vivo lung perfusion, which is run with the low-flow, open atrium, low haematocrit technique.

Results: During the study, we managed 5 controlled DCDs. In 3 cases, the lungs were successfully transplanted. All 3 patients are alive after 1 year, with good respiratory function.

Conclusions: Our approach resulted in adequate lung preservation and successful transplants without detrimental effects on abdominal organ procurement, confirming the possibility of overcoming the obstacle of a long no-touch period in a DCD setting.

Keywords: Ex vivo lung perfusion; Cardiocirculatory death; Circulatory determination of death; Donation after circulatory death; Inferior vena cava; Lung transplantation; Lung-donation after circulatory death project; Pulmonary artery; Recombinant tissue plasminogen activator; Superior vena cava.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Extracorporeal Circulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia*
  • Lung / blood supply*
  • Lung / surgery
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Preservation / methods*
  • Perfusion / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / methods*