Heart-After-Liver Transplantation Attenuates Rejection of Cardiac Allografts in Sensitized Patients

Richard C. Daly, Andrew N. Rosenbaum, Joseph A. Dearani, Alfredo L. Clavell, Naveen L. Pereira, Barry A. Boilson, Robert P. Frantz, Atta Behfar, Shannon M. Dunlay, Richard J. Rodeheffer, John A. Schirger, Timucin Taner, Manish J. Gandhi, Julie K. Heimbach, Charles B. Rosen, Brooks S. Edwards, Sudhir S. Kushwaha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: In patients undergoing heart transplantation, significant allosensitization limits access to organs, resulting in longer wait times and high waitlist mortality. Current desensitization strategies are limited in enabling successful transplantation. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to describe the cumulative experience of combined heart-liver transplantation using a novel heart-after-liver transplant (HALT) protocol resulting in profound immunologic protection. Methods: Reported are the results of a clinical protocol that was instituted to transplant highly sensitized patients requiring combined heart and liver transplantation at a single institution. Patients were dual-organ listed with perceived elevated risk of rejection or markedly prolonged waitlist time due to high levels of allo-antibodies. Detailed immunological data and long-term patient and graft outcomes were obtained. Results: A total of 7 patients (age 43 ± 7 years, 86% women) with high allosensitization (median calculated panel reactive antibody = 77%) underwent HALT. All had significant, unacceptable donor specific antibodies (DSA) (>4,000 mean fluorescence antibody). Prospective pre-operative flow cytometric T-cell crossmatch was positive in all, and B-cell crossmatch was positive in 5 of 7. After HALT, retrospective crossmatch (B- and T-cell) became negative in all. DSA fell dramatically; at last follow-up, all pre-formed or de novo DSA levels were insignificant at <2,000 mean fluorescence antibody. No patients experienced >1R rejection over a median follow-up of 48 months (interquartile range: 25 to 68 months). There was 1 death due to metastatic cancer and no significant graft dysfunction. Conclusions: A heart-after-liver transplantation protocol enables successful transplantation via near-elimination of DSA and is effective in preventing adverse immunological outcomes in highly sensitized patients listed for combined heart-liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1340
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 16 2021


  • combined organ transplantation
  • heart transplantation
  • rejection
  • sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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