Background: Pancreas transplantation remains the gold standard for treatment for type I diabetes providing an insulinin-dependent, normoglycemic state. Increasingly, donation after cardiac death (DCD) donors are used in view of the organ donor shortage. We aimed to systematically review recipient outcomes from DCD donors and where possible compared these with donor after brain death (DBD) donors.
Methods: We searched the databases MEDLINE via PubMed, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library from inception to March 2015, for studies reporting the outcome of DCD pancreas transplants. We appraised studies using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale and meta-analyzed using a random effects model.
Results: We identified 18 studies, 4 retrospective and 6 prospective cohort studies and 8 case reports. Our bias assessment revealed that although studies were well conducted, some studies had potential confounding factors and absence of comparator groups. Eight of the 18 studies included a DBD comparison group comprising 23 609 transplant recipients. Importantly, there was no significant difference in allograft survival up to 10 years (hazard ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.74-1.31; P = 0.92), or patient survival (hazard ratio, 1.31; 95% CI, 0.62-2.78; P = 0.47) between DCD and DBD pancreas transplants. We estimated that the odds of graft thrombosis was 1.67 times higher in DCD organs (95% CI, 1.04-2.67; P = 0.006). However, subgroup analysis found thrombosis was not higher in recipients whose DCD donors were given antemortem heparin (P = 0.62).
Conclusions: Using current DCD criteria, pancreas transplantation is a viable alternative to DBD transplantation, and antemortem interventions including heparinization may be beneficial. This potential benefit of DCD pancreas donation warrants further study.