Elderly liver donors (ELDs) represent a possible expansion of the donor pool, although there is great reluctance to use ELDs because of reports that increasing donor age predicts graft loss and patient death. The goal of this study was to identify a subgroup of recipients who would be least affected by increased donor age and thus best suited to receive grafts from ELDs. A national registry of deceased donor liver transplants from 2002-2005 was analyzed. ELDs aged 70-92 (n = 1043) were compared with average liver donors (ALDs) aged 18-69 (n = 15,878) and ideal liver donors (ILDs) aged 18-39 (n = 6842). Recipient factors that modified the effect of donor age on outcomes were identified via interaction term analysis. Outcomes in recipient subgroups were compared using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Recipients preferred for ELD transplants were determined to be first-time recipients over the age of 45 with body mass index <35, non-status 1 registration, cold ischemic time <8 hours, and either hepatocellular carcinoma or an indication for transplantation other than hepatitis C. In preferred recipients, there were no differences in outcomes when ELD livers were used (3-year graft survival: ELD 75%, ALD 75%, ILD 77%, P > 0.1; 3-year patient survival: ELD 81%, ALD 80%, ILD 81%, P > 0.1). In contrast, there were significandy worse outcomes when ELD livers were used in nonpreferred recipients (3-year graft survival: ELD 50%, ALD 71%, ILD 75%, P < 0.001; 3-year patient survival: ELD 64%, ALD 77%, ILD 80%, P < 0.001). Conclusion: The risks of ELDs can be substantially minimized by appropriate recipient selection.
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