Review Article

The donor heart and organ perfusion technology

Hong Chee Chew, Peter S. Macdonald, Kumud K. Dhital


Recent advancement in organ perfusion technology has led to increase clinical transplantation of marginal donor organs and allow for distant procurement of cardiac allograft beyond the time limitation of cold static storage. Ex-situ heart perfusion also provides essential nutrients to maintain cell integrity, thereby reducing the risk of ischaemic injury for functional preservation and provides a platform to assess organ viability and feasibility, with the potential for pharmacotherapy to recover these hearts. Notably, the use of NMP has led to the first distant procurement cardiac transplantation from a donation after circulatory death (DCD) in 2014, which resulted in the adoption of DCD heart transplantation in 4 centres between the United Kingdom and Australia. To date, over 100 DCD heart transplants have been performed utilising cardiac perfusion system with an estimated 10–15% increase in transplant activity in the individual units. This review aims to provide an overview of current experience and outcomes using cardiac perfusion technology, including future technologies and recent advancement within the field.

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