Objective: This study evaluates the efficacy of personally inspecting marginal thoracic organ donors to expand the donor pool.
Summary background data: The present donor criteria for heart and lung transplantation are very strict and result in exclusion of many potential thoracic organ donors. Due to a limited donor pool, 20-30% of patients die waiting for transplantation.
Methods: The authors have performed a prospective study of personally inspecting marginal donor organs that previously would have been rejected by standard donor criteria.
Results: Fourteen marginal hearts and eleven marginal lungs were inspected. All 14 marginal hearts and 10 of the marginal lungs were transplanted. All cardiac transplant patients did well. The mean ejection fraction of the donor hearts preoperatively was 39 +/- 11% (range 15-50%). Postoperatively, the ejection fraction of the donor hearts improved significantly to 55 +/- 3% (p < 0.002). Nine of the ten lung transplant patients did well and were operative survivors. Our donor pool expanded by 36% over the study period.
Conclusions: The present donor criteria for heart and lung transplantation are too strict. Personal inspection of marginal thoracic donor organs will help to maximize donor utilization.