Matching High-Risk Recipients With Marginal Donor Hearts Is a Clinically Effective Strategy

Mark J. Russo, Ryan R Davies, Kimberly N. Hong, Jonathan M. Chen, Michael Argenziano, Alan Moskowitz, Deborah D. Ascheim, Isaac George, Allan S. Stewart, Mathew Williams, Annetine Gelijns, Yoshifumi Naka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study is to determine the clinical outcomes associated with alternate listing transplantation, which utilizes "marginal" donor organs by transplanting them into high-risk recipients who fail to meet the standard criteria for transplantation. Methods: The United Network for Organ Sharing provided de-identified patient-level data. Analysis focused on patients undergoing heart transplantation between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2005 (n = 13,024). High-risk criteria included age more than 65 years old, retransplantation, hepatitis C-positive, human immunodeficiency virus-positive, creatinine clearance less than 30 mL/min, diabetes mellitus with peripheral vascular disease, and diabetes with creatinine clearance less than 40 mL/min. Marginal donor criteria included age more than 55 years, diabetes mellitus, hepatitis C-positive, human immunodeficiency virus-positive, ejection fraction less than 45%, and donor:recipient weight less than 0.7. Results: Survival in the standard transplant group, defined as non-high-risk patients who received nonmarginal organs, was better than in all other groups (p < 0.001). Alternate listing transplantation patients had the worst survival (p < 0.001). The 5-year survival for the alternate listing transplantation group was 51.4%, compared with 75.1% in the standard transplant group; the standard transplant patients, with the lowest incidence of in-hospital infection (21.1%) and dialysis (7.1%), also had the best transplant hospitalization outcomes (p < 0.001). In contrast, alternate listing transplantation patients had the highest incidence of in-hospital infection (35.4%; p < 0.001). Length of stay during transplant hospitalization was also shortest in the standard transplant group (18.8 days; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Alternate listing transplantation is associated with greater morbidity and resource utilization compared with standard transplantation. However, this strategy offers a median survival of 5.2 years to patients who would otherwise be expected to live 1 year, and therefore, may be reasonably applied to expand the benefits of transplantation. Further studies examining the costs and quality of life related to this approach are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1071
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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