Utilization of older deceased donors for pediatric liver transplant may negatively impact long-term survival

Sakil S. Kulkarni, Neeta A. Vachharajani, Angela L. Hill, Amen Z. Kiani, Janis M. Stoll, Michelle L. Nadler, William C. Chapman, Maria M. Doyle, Adeel S. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Multiple adult studies have investigated the role of older donors (ODs) in expanding the donor pool. However, the impact of donor age on pediatric liver transplantation (LT) has not been fully elucidated. Methods: UNOS database was used to identify pediatric (≤18 years) LTs performed in the United States during 2002–22. Donors ≥40 years at donation were classified as older donors (ODs). Propensity analysis was performed with 1:1 matching for potentially confounding variables. Results: A total of 10,024 pediatric liver transplantation (PLT) patients met inclusion criteria; 669 received liver grafts from ODs. Candidates receiving OD liver grafts were more likely to be transplanted for acute liver failure, have higher Model End-Stage Liver Disease/Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD/PELD) scores at LT, listed as Status 1/1A at LT, and be in the intensive care unit (ICU) at time of LT (all p < 0.001). Kaplan–Meier (KM) analyses showed that recipients of OD grafts had worse patient and graft survival (p < 0.001) compared to recipients of younger donor (YD) grafts. KM analyses performed on candidates matched for acuity at LT revealed inferior patient and graft survival in recipients of deceased donor grafts (p < 0.001), but not living donor grafts (p > 0.1) from ODs. Cox regression analysis demonstrated that living donor LT, diagnosis of biliary atresia and first liver transplant were favorable predictors of recipient outcomes, whereas ICU stay before LT and transplantation during 2002–12 were unfavorable. Conclusion: Livers from ODs were used for candidates with higher acuity. Pediatric recipients of livers from ODs had worse outcome compared to YDs; however, living donor LT from ODs had the least negative impact on recipient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-908
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • donor age
  • living donor
  • outcome


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