No country for old livers? Examining and optimizing the utilization of elderly liver grafts

K. J. Halazun, A. A. Rana, B. Fortune, R. C. Quillin, E. C. Verna, B. Samstein, J. V. Guarrera, T. Kato, A. D. Griesemer, A. Fox, R. S. Brown, J. C. Emond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Of the 1.6 million patients >70 years of age who died of stroke since 2002, donor livers were retrieved from only 2402 (0.15% yield rate). Despite reports of successful liver transplantation (LT) with elderly grafts (EG), advanced donor age is considered a risk for poor outcomes. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services definitions of an “eligible death” for donation excludes patients >70 years of age, creating disincentives to donation. We investigated utilization and outcomes of recipients of donors >70 through analysis of a United Network for Organ Sharing Standard Transplant Analysis and Research-file of adult LTs from 2002 to 2014. Survival analysis was conducted using Kaplan-Meier curves, and Cox regression was used to identify factors influencing outcomes of EG recipients. Three thousand one hundred four livers from donors >70, ≈40% of which were used in 2 regions: 2 (520/3104) and 9 (666/3104). Unadjusted survival was significantly worse among recipients of EG compared to recipients of younger grafts (P <.0001). Eight independent negative predictors of survival in recipients of EG were identified on multivariable analysis. Survival of low-risk recipients who received EG was significantly better than survival of recipients of younger grafts (P =.04). Outcomes of recipients of EG can therefore be optimized to equal outcomes of younger grafts. Given the large number of stroke deaths in patients >70 years of age, the yield rate of EGs can be maximized and disincentives removed to help resolve the organ shortage crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-678
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


  • Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network
  • clinical research/practice
  • delayed graft function
  • donors and donation
  • geriatrics
  • liver transplantation/hepatology
  • organ acceptance
  • organ procurement and allocation
  • recipient selection


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