Anonymous Nondirected Liver Donors

D Yoeli et al. Liver Transplantation 2021; 27: 1392-1400. Challenging the Traditional Paradigm of Supply and Demand in Pediatric Liver Transplantation Through Nondirected Living Donation: A Case Series

This case series of 13 nondirected liver donors (ND-LLDs) (from 2012-2020) helps highlight this increasing trend of motivated donors who do not have a predetermined recipient. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients documented 105 patients who underwent a living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) from ND-LLDs 2000-2019, with 39 in 2019 alone.

Key points:

  • While the article states that carefully selected ND-LLDs at high volume centers have excellent outcomes, the associated editorial (pg 1373-74) notes that there is a 0.2% living donor operative mortality. And, a significant number experience negative physical and socioeconomic effects of donation
  • The authors advocate more use of SPLIT livers to increase the donor pool (currently at 10 centers) to lower pediatric deaths on the waitlist
  • The authors note that the likelihood of receiving a LT is increased at high-volume pediatric centers (85%) compared to low-volume centers (41%). “Center expertise and volume is an important consideration…especially true for pediatric liver transplantation, which is relatively infrequent…551 [in 2019]” compared to 8345 adult liver transplants.

The commentary places some context regarding the donors.

  • 70% had previously donated a kidney (“Repetitive donor disorder?”)
  • Yet, “in some sense, nondirected donors may be the best qualified donors, as they are free of coercion”
  • The authors advocate for a “safe, well-informed” process and for national guidelines to address risks and the components of evaluation, medical and psychosocial

My take: It is amazing how much some individuals are willing to sacrifice to help others, especially in age when some react so harshly to being asked to consider the needs of their community.

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