Background: Data showing the efficacy and safety of the transplantation of hearts obtained from donors after circulatory death as compared with hearts obtained from donors after brain death are limited.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, noninferiority trial in which adult candidates for heart transplantation were assigned in a 3:1 ratio to receive a heart after the circulatory death of the donor or a heart from a donor after brain death if that heart was available first (circulatory-death group) or to receive only a heart that had been preserved with the use of traditional cold storage after the brain death of the donor (brain-death group). The primary end point was the risk-adjusted survival at 6 months in the as-treated circulatory-death group as compared with the brain-death group. The primary safety end point was serious adverse events associated with the heart graft at 30 days after transplantation.
Results: A total of 180 patients underwent transplantation; 90 (assigned to the circulatory-death group) received a heart donated after circulatory death and 90 (regardless of group assignment) received a heart donated after brain death. A total of 166 transplant recipients were included in the as-treated primary analysis (80 who received a heart from a circulatory-death donor and 86 who received a heart from a brain-death donor). The risk-adjusted 6-month survival in the as-treated population was 94% (95% confidence interval [CI], 88 to 99) among recipients of a heart from a circulatory-death donor, as compared with 90% (95% CI, 84 to 97) among recipients of a heart from a brain-death donor (least-squares mean difference, -3 percentage points; 90% CI, -10 to 3; P<0.001 for noninferiority [margin, 20 percentage points]). There were no substantial between-group differences in the mean per-patient number of serious adverse events associated with the heart graft at 30 days after transplantation.
Conclusions: In this trial, risk-adjusted survival at 6 months after transplantation with a donor heart that had been reanimated and assessed with the use of extracorporeal nonischemic perfusion after circulatory death was not inferior to that after standard-care transplantation with a donor heart that had been preserved with the use of cold storage after brain death. (Funded by TransMedics; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT03831048.).
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