The use of advanced-age donor hearts adversely affects survival in pediatric heart transplantation

Clifford Chin, Joan Miller, Robert Robbins, Bruce Reitz, Daniel Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


There is a limited supply of adequate donor hearts for cardiac transplantation. The safety of using advanced-age donor hearts has been debated in adult transplantation but has not been studied previously in pediatric recipients. In this retrospective study, survival of 79 pediatric heart transplant recipients was reviewed. Pediatric recipient groups were stratified based on donor age (group 1 donor age > 40 yr, n = 5; group 2 donor age ≤ 40 yr, n = 74). Survival of 267 adolescent (ages 11-17) heart transplant recipients in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database was also reviewed. Patients were likewise divided into two groups based on donor age (> 40 yr, n = 12; ≤ 40 yr, n = 255). Survival at one yr was 20% in group 1 vs. 78% in group 2 (p < 0.005). Cause of death in all group 1 patients was graft failure secondary to acute rejection. Analysis of risk of death was only significantly attributable to the age of the donor. The increased risk attributable to advanced donor age was also supported by the UNOS data. The UNOS one and two-year Kaplan-Meier survival curves were significantly lower in adolescent patients who received donor hearts > 40 yr of age. One-year survival was 58% (older donors) vs. 85% (younger donors, p < 0.005) and two-year survival was 44% (older donors) vs. 79% (younger donors, p < 0.005). Advanced-age donor hearts should be contraindicated in pediatric transplantation with the exception of critically ill patients who may not be able to wait for a younger heart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-314
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric transplantation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Donor age
  • Heart transplantation
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Transplantation


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