1Department of Surgery, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York.
2Gift of Life Donor Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Purpose of review: The deceased donor organ pool has broadened beyond young, otherwise healthy head trauma victims. But an abundance of donated organs only benefits patients if they are accepted, expeditiously transported and actually transplanted. This review focuses on postdonation challenges and opportunities to increase the number of transplants through improved organ utilization.
Recent findings: We build upon recently proposed changes in terminology for measuring organ utilization. Among organs recovered for transplant, the nonuse rate (NUR REC ) has risen above 25% for kidneys and pancreata. Among donors, the nonuse rate (NUR DON ) has risen to 40% for livers and exceeds 70% for thoracic organs. Programme-level variation in offer acceptance rates vastly exceeds variation in the traditional, 1-year survival benchmark. Key opportunities to boost utilization include donation after circulatory death and hepatitis C virus (HCV)+ organs; acute kidney injury and suboptimal biopsy kidneys; older and steatotic livers.
Summary: Underutilization of less-than-ideal, yet transplant-worthy organs remains an obstacle to maximizing the impact of the U.S. transplant system. The increased risk of inferior posttransplant outcomes must always be weighed against the risks of remaining on the waitlist. Advanced perfusion technologies; tuning allocation systems for placement efficiency; and data-driven clinical decision support have the potential to increase utilization of medically complex organs.