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Peripheral tissue oxygenation and the number of organs transplanted per donor

Anesthesiology Institute, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Department of Qualitative Health Sciences, Cleveland Clinic, Department of Pediatric Critical Care, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, Cleveland and Critical Care Medicine, Akron Children’s Hospital. Akron, Ohio, USA


Current donor management practices target macrohaemodynamic parameters, but it is unclear if this leads to improvements in microvascular perfusion and tissue oxygenation; the latter may have more impact on organ status. In a recent preclinical study we determined that brain death impaired tissue perfusion and oxygen utilisation in swine while pharmacologic correction of these deficits improved organ function and reduced markers of tissue injury. As a first step in translating the preclinical findings, we conducted a prospective observational study to determine if there was an association between peripheral tissue oxygenation (measured by near-infrared spectroscopy) in deceased by neurological criteria human donors and the number of organs transplanted. In 60 donors, the mean time-weighted average of tissue oxygenation was 87.5% (standard deviation, SD, 5.2%) and the average number of organs transplanted was 3.5 (SD 2); there was a positive linear relationship between these two parameters. A 5% rise in tissue oxygenation was associated with an increase of 0.47 organs transplanted (95% confidence intervals 0.16 to 0.78) after adjusting for age (P=0.004). No such correlations were observed for the macrohaemodynamic or macro-oxygenation parameters (including arterial blood oxygenation). The results of this clinical trial are consistent with our preclinical work and support the postulate that targeting the microvasculature to improve tissue perfusion and tissue oxygen delivery in human donors has the potential to increase the quantity of organs suitable for transplant.

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