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Successful Recovery of Cardiac Function Following 20 min of a No-touch Period in a Donation After Circulatory Death: A Case Report.

Transplantation 2024 May 17
BACKGROUND: Withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy (WLST) performed in the circulatory determination of death (DCD) donors leads to cardiac arrest, challenging the utilization of the myocardium for transplantation. The rapid initiation of normothermic regional perfusion or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation after death helps to optimize organs before implantation. However, additional strategies to mitigate the effects of stress response during WLST, hypoxic/ischemic injury, and reperfusion injury are required to allow myocardium recovery.

METHODS: To this aim, our team routinely used a preconditioning protocol for each DCD donation before and during the WLST and after normothermic regional perfusion/extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The protocol includes pharmacological treatments combined to reduce oxidative stress (melatonin, N-acetylcysteine, and ascorbic acid), improve microcirculation (statins), and mitigate organ's ischemic injury (steroids) and organ ischemia/reperfusion injury (remifentanil and sevoflurane when the heart is available for transplantation).

RESULTS: This report presents the first case of recovery of cardiac function, with the only support of normothermic regional reperfusion, following 20 min of a no-touch period and 41 min of functional warm ischemic time in a DCD donor after the preconditioning protocol.

CONCLUSIONS: Our protocol seems to be effective in abolishing the stress response during WLST and, on the other hand, particularly organ protective (and heart protective), giving a chance to donate organs less impaired from ischemia/reperfusion injury.

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