The imbalance between patients requiring lung transplantation and the availability of suitable donor organs is one of the major factors contributing to long waiting times and considerable mortality on the waiting list. The lung is an especially vulnerable organ, and particularly prone to infection, due to its direct contact with the environment. This situation further diminishes the potential number of transplantable organs. In this situation, the use of lungs from non-heart-beating donors represents an approach to overcome this limitation. A broad application of this method could help to significantly expand the currently available donor-organ pool.
This paper aims to outline the problems related to the use of lungs from non-heart-beating donors, to give an overview on recent experimental advancements, and to review the current clinical status of the method. Furthermore, an outlook on its potential future applications is given.
The use of non-heart-beating lung donors has become routine in some centers, leading to an expansion of the potential donor pool. More long-term outcome data are required to verify the equality or superiority of non-heart-beating donor lungs compared with heart-beating, brain-dead donors. Non-heart-beating donation can be expected to gain a far more widespread use in the future.
Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Correspondence to Walter Klepetko, MD, Professor of Special Thoracic Surgery, Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18–20, 1090 Vienna, Austria Tel: +43 1 40400 5644; fax: +43 1 40400 5642; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org