New Approaches to Donor Selection and Preparation in Heart Transplantation

Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2021;23(5):28. doi: 10.1007/s11936-021-00906-5. Epub 2021 Mar 23.

Abstract

Purpose of review: With increasing survival of patients with stage D heart failure, the demand for heart transplantation has increased. The supply of donor hearts remains relatively limited. Strategies have been investigated and new technologies have been developed to expand the current donor pool. These new approaches will be discussed herein.

Recent findings: Donor hearts are often considered "marginal" due to risk factors such as older age, size mismatch with the intended recipient, prolonged ischemic time, presence of left ventricular hypertrophy, and hepatitis B/C infection. We reviewed recent data regarding the use of donor hearts with these risk factors and suggest ways to safely liberalize current donor heart acceptance criteria. New technologies such as temperature-controlled transport systems and ex vivo cardiac perfusion methods have also demonstrated promising short-term and intermediate outcomes as compared with routine cold storage, by promoting heart preservation and enabling heart procurement from remote sites with shorter cold ischemic time. Recent use of hearts from donation after circulatory death donors has demonstrated comparable outcomes to conventional donation after brain death, which can further expand the current donor pool.

Summary: Careful selection of "marginal" donor hearts, use of ex vivo cardiac perfusion, and acceptance of hearts after circulatory death may expand our current cardiac donor pool with comparable outcomes to conventional donor selection and preparation methods.

Keywords: Donation after circulatory death; Donor selection; Ex vivo perfusion; Heart transplantation; Marginal donor.

Publication types

  • Review