Background. It has been suggested that the modality of brain death and time from brain death until harvest impact survival and rejection after heart transplantation. Methods. Donor files from 475 adult heart-transplant recipients were examined. From these files, a total management time (time from incident leading to brain death until aortic cross clamp) was determined, and the cause of brain death was noted. Recipient characteristics, details of postoperative course, as well as survival were obtained from the Stanford University Medical Center Heart Transplantation Database. Results. Two hundred and thirty (48.4%) donors sustained traumatic injuries, 112 (23.6%) suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and 102 (21.4%) died of a gunshot wound to the head. The modality of brain death did not influence medium and long-term survival. A management time longer than 72 hours was associated with poorer outcome of the heart-transplant recipients. There were significantly more treated rejection episodes in recipients whose donor sustained traumatic injuries. Conclusion. Modality of brain death does not impact survival but appears to influence rejection. Increased management time is associated with adverse survival trends in heart-transplant recipients.
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