Abstract: Background: The aim of this cohort study was to assess the cumulative effect of marginal donor criteria on initial graft function and patient survival after liver transplantation.
Methods: We included 734 consecutive patients who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation at the Vienna General Hospital between January 1993 and December 2003. We employed the local registry of the Department of Transplant Surgery, where variables of all patients are routinely and prospectively recorded. Primary outcome was initial graft function, secondary outcome was patient survival.
Results: Cumulative number of marginal donor criteria was significantly and linearly associated with an increased rate of primary dysfunction (PDF; p = 0.005). In patients with more than three cumulative marginal donor criteria the rate of PDF was 36%. Patient survival was not influenced by the cumulative number of donor criteria (log-rank test, p = 0.81). Independent marginal donor criteria to predict PDF were cold ischemia time >10 h [odds ratio (OR) 0.56; 95% CI 0.32–0.98] and donor peak serum sodium >155 mEq/L (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.26–0.77), as assessed in a multivariate regression model.
Conclusions: The use of marginal liver donors with more than three marginal donor criteria shows deleterious effects on initial graft function. Noteworthy, patient survival was not associated with marginal donor criteria, which may be explained by early and successful retransplantation of liver recipients with primary non-function.