A Revised Consideration on the Use of Very Aged Donors for Liver Transplantation

Gian Luca Grazi, Matteo Cescon, Matteo Ravaioli, Giorgio Ercolani, Filippo Pierangeli, Antonietta D'Errico, Lorenza Ridolfi, Antonino Cavallari, Alighieri Mazziotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The upper age limit for organ donation for liver transplantation has increased over the past few years. A retrospective case control study was carried out to evaluate the outcome of 36 liver transplants (group A) performed with grafts procured from donors over 70years old in the period 1996 to April 2000, matched with 36 transplants (group B) chronologically performed thereafter with organs procured from donors below the age of 40yr. The groups were comparable as regards main clinical characteristics. Mean follow-up was 14.5months. Clinical and laboratory parameters of the donors, cold ischemia period, intraoperative blood transfusions, 30-d mortality, incidence of primary graft nonfunction, acute rejection episodes, arterial complications and long-term survival of recipients were considered. The main postoperative biochemical parameters were also collected and compared. A liver biopsy was obtained in 20/36 old donors, revealing less than 25% of steatosis in all but one, which showed steatosis involving 70% of the hepatocytes. There were two postoperative deaths (5.6%) in group A and one (2.8%) in group B (p = NS). Seven postoperative arterial complications (19.4%) occurred in group A, leading to the patient's death because of rupture of the hepatic artery in one case, to successful surgical revascularization in three cases and to retransplantation in three cases. Only one patient in group B (2.8%) experienced hepatic artery thrombosis (p = 0.055). One-year patient survival rates were 77.4% for group A and 88.8% for group B (p = NS); 1-yr graft survival rates were 73.3% for group A and 85.7% for group B (p = NS). In conclusion, donors over 70 should not be excluded a priori for liver transplantation in elective settings. Great attention should be paid to the pathological conditions of arterial vessels caused by atherosclerosis, i.e. the presence of calcified plaques on the hepatic artery, which might represent the source of severe complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2001


  • Aging
  • Hepatic artery
  • Liver transplantation
  • Postoperative complications
  • Tissue donors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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