skip to Main Content

Left Ventricular Dysfunction Associated With Brain Death: Results From the Donor Heart Study

Left ventricular dysfunction in potential donors meeting brain death criteria often results in nonuse of donor hearts for transplantation, yet little is known about its incidence or pathophysiology. Resolving these unknowns was a primary aim of the DHS (Donor Heart Study), a multisite prospective cohort study. The DHS enrolled potential donors by neurologic determination of death (n=4333) at 8 organ procurement organizations across the United States between February 2015 and May 2020. Data included medications administered, serial diagnostic tests, and transthoracic echocardiograms (TTEs) performed: (1) within 48 hours after brain death was formally diagnosed; and (2) 24±6 hours later if left ventricular (LV) dysfunction was initially present. LV dysfunction was defined as an LV ejection fraction <50% and was considered reversible if LV ejection fraction was >50% on the second TTE. TTEs were also examined for presence of LV regional wall motion abnormalities and their reversibility. We assessed associations between LV dysfunction, donor heart acceptance for transplantation, and recipient 1-year survival. An initial TTE was interpreted for 3794 of the 4333 potential donors by neurologic determination of death. A total of 493 (13%) of these TTEs showed LV dysfunction. Among those donors with an initial TTE, LV dysfunction was associated with younger age, underweight, and higher NT-proBNP (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide) and troponin levels. A second TTE was performed within 24±6 hours for a subset of donors (n=224) with initial LV dysfunction; within this subset, 130 (58%) demonstrated reversibility. Sixty percent of donor hearts with normal LV function were accepted for transplant compared with 56% of hearts with reversible LV dysfunction and 24% of hearts with nonreversible LV dysfunction. Donor LV dysfunction, whether reversible or not, was not associated with recipient 1-year survival. LV dysfunction associated with brain death occurs in many potential heart donors and is sometimes reversible. These findings can inform decisions made during donor evaluation and help guide donor heart acceptance for transplantation.

Authors: Khush, Kiran K;Weng, Yingjie;Zaroff, Jonathan;et al.

Circulation. 2023 Sep 05;148(10):822-833. Epub 2023-07-19.

PubMed abstract

Explore all studies and publications

Back To Top