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Organ donation after circulatory death: current status and future potential

Martin Smith| B. Dominguez-Gil| D. M. Greer| A. R. Manara| M. J. Souter
Online First ™ - February , 2019

Pages 1 - 12


The continuing shortage of deceased donor organs for transplantation, and the limited number of potential donors after brain death, has led to a resurgence of interest in donation after circulatory death (DCD). The processes of warm and cold ischemia threaten the viability of DCD organs, but these can be minimized by well-organized DCD pathways and new techniques of in situ organ preservation and ex situ resuscitation and repair post-explantation. Transplantation survival after DCD is comparable to donation after brain death despite higher rates of primary non-function and delayed graft function. Countries with successfully implemented DCD programs have achieved this primarily through the establishment of national ethical, professional and legal frameworks to address both public and professional concerns with all aspects of the DCD pathway. It is unlikely that expanding standard DCD programs will, in isolation, be sufficient to address the worldwide shortage of donor organs for transplantation. It is therefore likely that reliance on extended criteria donors will increase, with the attendant imperative to minimize ischemic injury to candidate organs. Normothermic regional perfusion and ex situ perfusion techniques allow enhanced preservation, assessment, resuscitation and/or repair of damaged organs as a way of improving overall organ quality and preventing the unnecessary discarding of DCD organs. This review will outline exemplar controlled and uncontrolled DCD pathways, highlighting practical and logistical considerations that minimize warm and cold ischemia times while addressing potential ethical concerns. Future perspectives will also be discussed.



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