Normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) enables optimized ex-vivo preservation of a donor liver in a normal physiologic state. The impact of this emerging technology on donor liver utilization has yet to be assessed.
Summary Background Data:
NMP of the donor liver and ex-vivo enhancement of its function has been envisioned for decades, however only with recent technological advances have devices been suitable for transition to clinical practice. The present study examines the effect NMP on liver utilization in the United States.
The United Network for Organ Sharing database was queried to identify deceased donor livers procured from 2016 to 2019 (n = 30596). Donor livers were divided by preservation method: standard cold-static preservation (COLD, n = 30,368) versus NMP (n = 228). Donor and recipient risk factors, liver disposition, and discard reasons were analyzed. The primary outcome was liver discard rate between 2 groups.
A total of 4037 livers were discarded. The NMP group had a 3.5% discard rate versus 13.3% in the COLD group (P < 0.001), and this was despite NMP donors being older (47.7 vs 39.5 years, P < 0.0001), more frequently donation after cardiac death (DCD) (18% vs 7%, P < 0.001), and having a greater donor risk index (1.6 vs 1.5, P < 0.05). The most common reasons for liver discard in the COLD group were biopsy findings (38%), DCD warm ischemic time (11%), and prolonged preservation time (10%). Survival analysis, following propensity score matching, found no significant difference in 1-year overall survival between recipients of NMP versus COLD livers.
NMP reduces the discard rate of procured livers despite its use in donors traditionally considered of more marginal quality. NMP maintains excellent graft and patient survival. Broader application of NMP technology holds the potential to generate a significant number of additional liver grafts for transplantation every year, thus greatly reducing the nationwide disparity between supply and demand.