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Donor shortages have led to some groups using alternative sources such as non-heartbeating donors (NHBDs). Kidneys from NHBDs suffer from warm ischemia at cardiac arrest which is reflected by acute tubular necrosis of the allograft, resulting in a period of delayed graft function. NHBDs are categorized by the circumstances surrounding the agonal events of death which reflect differences in the likelihood of ischemic injury to the kidney. In this study we determined the impact of ischemic injury on the renal function of kidneys procured from different categories of NHBDs.

Materials and Methods:

From 1998 to 2003, 144 kidneys were procured from 72 NHBDs resulting in 93 transplants characterized into Maastricht categories II, III and IV NHBD renal transplants. Renal function after transplant was evaluated from the last dialysis until discharge from hospital, and then at 3 monthly intervals thereafter.


Primary warm ischemic time is more prolonged in the uncontrolled donor (category II) than controlled donor (category III greater than IV). Delayed graft function occurs more frequently (Maastricht category II 83.8%, III 67.4% and IV 0%, ANOVA p <0.05) and the return to normal function is more prolonged in uncontrolled donors. This is illustrated by the greater incidence of acute tubular necrosis (Maastricht category II 81.1%, III 65.2% and IV 50.0%, ANOVA p = nonsignificant) in the kidney allograft. There was no difference in year 1 allograft survival (Maastricht category II 83.9%, III 92.5% and IV 100%, ANOVA p = nonsignificant).


Early graft function is poorest in kidneys derived from Maastricht category II donors and best in category IV with III in-between. However, after 3 months the function of kidneys from all donors is the same.


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From the Renal and Liver Transplant Unit, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England