Donation after circulatory death (DCD) can increase the pool of available organs for transplantation. This pilot study evaluates the implementation of a controlled DCD (cDCD) protocol using normothermic regional perfusion in Norway.
Patients aged 16 to 60 years that are in coma with documented devastating brain injury in need of mechanical ventilation, who would most likely attain cardiac arrest within 60 minutes after extubation, were eligible. With the acceptance from the next of kin and their wish for organ donation, life support was withdrawn and cardiac arrest observed. After a 5-minute no-touch period, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for post mortem regional normothermic regional perfusion was established. Cerebral and cardiac reperfusion was prevented by an aortic occlusion catheter. Measured glomerular filtration rates 1 year postengraftment were compared between cDCD grafts and age-matched grafts donated after brain death (DBD).
Eight cDCD were performed from 2014 to 2015. Circulation ceased median 12 (range, 6-24) minutes after withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Fourteen kidneys and 2 livers were retrieved and subsequently transplanted. Functional warm ischemic time was 26 (20-51) minutes. Regional perfusion was applied for 97 minutes (54-106 minutes). Measured glomerular filtration rate 1 year postengraftment was not significantly different between cDCD and donation after brain death organs, 75 (65-76) vs 60 (37-112) mL/min per 1.73 m2 (P = 0.23). No complications have been observed in the 2 cDCD livers.
A protocol for cDCD is successfully established in Norway. Excellent transplant outcomes have encouraged us to continue this work addressing the shortage of organs for transplantation.