Donors with central nervous system malignancies: Are they truly safe?

Academic Article


  • Background. In an era of organ shortage, the use of expanded or marginal donors has been attempted to increase transplantation rates and diminish waiting list mortality. One strategy is the use of organs from patients with a history of or active central nervous system (CNS) tumor. Methods. Sixty-two recipients were identified as the recipients of organs from donors with a history of or active CNS malignancy. Patient demographics, donor tumor management, incidence of tumor transmission, and patient survival were examined. Results. Of the organs recovered and transplanted from donors with astrocytoma, 14 were associated with at least one risk factor including high-grade tumor (n=4), prior surgery (n=5), radiation therapy (n=4), and systemic chemotherapy (n=4). One tumor transmission was identified at 20 months posttransplant with the patient expiring from metastatic disease. Twenty-six organs were transplanted from glioblastoma patients with 15 demonstrating risk factors including high-grade tumor (n=9) and prior surgery (n=10). Eight transmissions were identified with a range of 2 to 15 months posttransplant, with seven patients dying as the result of metastatic disease. Seven organs were used from donors with a medulloblastoma. Three transmissions were identified at a range of 5 to 7 months, all associated with ventriculo-peritoneal shunts. Two medulloblastoma recipients died as the result of metastatic disease, whereas the third is alive with diffuse disease. The rate of donor tumor transmission, in the absence of risk factors, was 7%, whereas in the presence of one or more risk factor this rate dramatically rose to 53% (P<0.01). Conclusions. Organs from donors with CNS tumors can be used with a low risk of donor tumor transmission in the absence of the following risk factors: high-grade tumors, ventriculoperitoneal or ventriculoatrial shunts, prior craniotomy, and systemic chemotherapy.
  • Published In

  • Transplantation  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 9889300
  • Author List

  • Buell JF; Trofe J; Sethuraman G; Hanaway MJ; Beebe TM; Gross TG; Alloway R; First MR; Woodle ES
  • Start Page

  • 340
  • End Page

  • 343
  • Volume

  • 76
  • Issue

  • 2