Heart, Lung and Circulation

An Audit of Lung Donor Pool: Optimal Current Donation Strategies and the Potential of Novel Time-Extended Donation After Circulatory Death Donation


      In Australia, increased organ donation and subsequent lung transplantation (LTx) rates have followed enhanced donor identification, referral and management, as well as the introduction of a donation after circulatory death (DCD) pathway. However, the number of patients waiting for LTx still continues to exceed the number of lung donors and the search for further suitable donors is critical.


      All 2014–2018 Victorian DonateLife hospital deaths after intensive care unit (ICU) admission were analysed retrospectively to quantify unrecognised lung donors using current criteria, as well as novel time-extended (90 mins–24 hrs post-withdrawal) DCD lung donors.


      Using standard lung donor eligibility criteria, we identified 473 potential lung donors and a further 122 time-extended DCD potential lung donors among 3,538 patients meeting general eligibility criteria. Detailed review of end-of-life discussions with patient families and the reasons why they were not offered donation revealed several categories of additional lung donors–traditional lung donors missed in current practice (n=2); hepatitis C infected lung donors potentially treatable with direct-acting antivirals (n=14), time-extended DCD lung donors (n=60); donor lungs potentially suitable for transplant with use of ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) (n=7).


      While the number of lung donor opportunities missed under existing DonateLife donor identification and management processes was limited, a time-extended DCD lung donation pathway could substantially expand the lung donor pool. The use of hepatitis C infected donors, and the possibility of EVLP to solve donor graft assessment or logistic issues, could also provide small additional lung donor opportunities.


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