Heart Transplant and Donors After Circulatory Death: A Clinical-Preclinical Systematic Review

J Surg Res. 2023 Dec;292:222-233 doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2023.07.050.

Heart transplantation is the treatment of choice for end-stage heart failure. There is a mismatch between the number of donor hearts available and the number of patients awaiting transplantation. Expanding the donor pool is critically important. The use of hearts donated following circulatory death is one approach to increasing the number of available donor hearts.


A systematic review was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines utilizing Pubmed/MEDLINE and Embase. Articles including adult human studies and preclinical animal studies of heart transplantation following donation after circulatory death were included. Studies of pediatric populations or including organs other than heart were excluded.


Clinical experience and preclinical studies are reviewed. Clinical experience with direct procurement, normothermic regional perfusion, and machine perfusion are included. Preclinical studies addressing organ function assessment and enhancement of performance of marginal organs through preischemic, procurement, preservation, and reperfusion maneuvers are included. Articles addressing the ethical considerations of thoracic transplantation following circulatory death are also reviewed.


Heart transplantation utilizing organs procured following circulatory death is a promising method to increase the donor pool and offer life-saving transplantation to patients on the waitlist living with end-stage heart failure. There is robust ongoing preclinical and clinical research to optimize this technique and improve organ yield. There are also ongoing ethical considerations that must be addressed by consensus before wide adoption of this approach.

Funding: No funding was received for this study
Publication type: Review, Systematic Review
Organ: Heart
Language: English
Author email: dr_a_chandrashekar@hotmail.com
MeSH terms: Heart Transplantation