The older cardiac transplant donor. Relation to graft function and recipient survival longer than 6 years

S. L. Mulvagh, B. Thornton, O. H. Frazier, B. Radovancevic, H. J. Norton, G. P. Noon, J. B. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A donor age of less than 35 years has long been considered crucial for heart transplantation. Because of limited donor heart supply and increasing demand for cardiac transplants, we attempted to expand the donor pool by using hearts from older individuals. This study was designed to determine if older hearts adversely affected cardiac transplant patient prognosis by predisposing them to graft failure from coronary artery disease, ventricular dysfunction, or death. Since 1982, 314 heart transplants have been performed at our institutions. Potential donors were deemed fit if there was no history of heart disease, the chest x-ray film was normal, the electrocardiogram showed nonspecific changes only, and blood pressure was maintained without major pharmacological support. In 47 (15%), donor age was 35 years or greater (group 1: mean age, 39 years; range, 35-49 years). In 267 (85%), donor age was less than 35 years (group 2: mean age, 23 years; range, 2-34 years). Mean group 1 recipient age was 55 years (range, 39-68 years) compared with 46 years (range, 0.7-66 years) in group 2 (p < 0.01). Pretransplant inotropic support, mechanical support, or both were required in 15 (33%) group 1 patients and in 41 (16%) group 2 patients (p < 0.01). Group 1 and 2 follow-up intervals were 1.1 ± 1.0 and 1.8 ± 1.4 years (mean ± SD), respectively (p < 0.0001). Overall survival was 64% versus 65%, group 1 versus group 2, and life table analysis showed no significant differenc between the groups. There were three of 17 (18%) deaths due to coronary artery disease in group 1 and 20 of 87 (23%) in group 2 (p = NS). Seven patients in group 2 and none in group 1 required retransplant because of coronary artery disease. Graft function (ejection fraction) was comparable in both groups (group 1, 57 ± 9%, n = 24 vs. group 2, 54 ± 9%, n = 148; p = NS). Multivariate analysis of donor characteristics showed that only female sex predicted adverse outcome (p < 0.001). We conclude that older hearts were used more often in older and more critically ill patients. Nevertheless, survival, development of coronary artery disease, and graft function were unaffected by donor age. Thus, one should not limit consideration of heart donors to previously accepted age criteria, and new criteria based on donor heart fitness can be established.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'The older cardiac transplant donor. Relation to graft function and recipient survival longer than 6 years'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this