Liver transplantation from non–heart-beating donors: Current status and future prospects



Liver transplantation is the treatment of choice for many patients with acute and chronic liver failure, but its application is limited by a shortage of donor organs. Donor organ shortage is the principal cause of increasing waiting lists, and a number of patients die while awaiting transplantation. Non–heart-beating donor (NHBD) livers are a potential means of expanding the donor pool. This is not a new concept. Prior to the recognition of brainstem death, organs were retrieved from deceased donors only after cardiac arrest. Given the preservation techniques available at that time, this restricted the use of extrarenal organs for transplantation. In conclusion, after establishment of brain death criteria, deceased donor organs were almost exclusively from heart-beating donors (HBDs). To increase organ availability, there is now a resurgence of interest in NHBD liver transplantation. This review explores the basis for this and considers some of the published results. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:1223–1232.)