Early Experience with Donation after Circulatory Death Heart Transplantation Using Normothermic Regional Perfusion in The United States

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021 Sep 14. Online ahead of print

Objective

This pilot study sought to evaluate the feasibility of our donation after circulatory death (DCD) heart transplantation protocol using cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) for normothermic regional reperfusion (NRP).

Methods

Suitable local DCD candidates were transferred to our institution. Life support was withdrawn in the operating room (OR). On declaration of circulatory death, sternotomy was performed, and the aortic arch vessels were ligated. CPB was initiated with left ventricular venting. The heart was reperfused, with correction of any metabolic abnormalities. CPB was weaned, and cardiac function was assessed at 30-minute intervals. If accepted, the heart was procured with cold preservation and transplanted into recipients in a nearby OR.

Results

Between January 2020 and January 2021, a total of 8 DCD heart transplants were performed: 6 isolated hearts, 1 heart-lung, and 1 combined heart and kidney. All donor hearts were successfully resuscitated and weaned from CPB without inotropic support. Average lactate and potassium levels decreased from 9.39 ± 1.47 mmol/L to 7.20 ± 0.13 mmol/L and 7.49 ± 1.32 mmol/L to 4.36 ± 0.67 mmol/L, respectively. Post-transplantation, the heart-lung transplant recipient required venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for primary lung graft dysfunction but was decannulated on postoperative day 3 and recovered uneventfully. All other recipients required minimal inotropic support without mechanical circulatory support. Survival was 100% with a median follow-up of 304 days (interquartile range, 105-371 days).

Conclusions

DCD heart transplantation outcomes have been excellent. Our DCD protocol is adoptable for more widespread use and will increase donor heart availability in the United States.