DCD Heart FAQs

What are the advantages?

As Papworth is one of the first hospitals in the UK to consider DCD heart transplantation, the chances of receiving a suitable donor heart are increased. When any technique is introduced in transplantation we want to do it cautiously and as safely as possible. We will therefore only be using younger adult DCD donor hearts in comparison to the DBD donor programme. If you decide to accept a DCD heart you may be one of the first people in the UK to be transplanted with this type of donor heart.

What are the disadvantages?

During DCD donation there is a very short time period of approximately 15 minutes where the heart is without a blood supply. When blood flow is restored to the heart on the OCS machine, the heart may be temporarily impaired or “stunned”. We know through years of experience of patients suffering from heart attacks that the human heart can tolerate a brief period of no blood flow and fully recover.

What are the risks?

The same risks that you have been counseled for in relation to DBD heart transplantation exist for DCD heart transplantation. We do not know the long term outcomes for DCD heart transplants as yet, but we have no reason to suspect that they will not be equivalent to DBD hearts.

Do any other organs get transplanted from DCD donors?

Yes. For the last 10 or more years, kidneys, livers and lungs are routinely transplanted from DCD donors.

If I choose to have a DCD heart will I be taken off the normal transplant waiting list?

No. If you choose to consider receiving a DCD donor heart, you will be on both lists, maximizing your chance of a transplant.

Will everyone on the heart transplant waiting list have the choice of a DCD heart donor?

No. As we introduce the DCD heart programme we will only be approaching patients with relatively low pulmonary pressures and those who do not have a long term ventricular assist device.

Will my treatment be any different if I decide to have a DCD donor heart?

No. It will be same team of surgeons and doctors that will be assessing the organ, undertaking the operation and looking after you following the operation.

It is important that you understand that all the risk and complications associated with heart transplantation that you have been previously counseled about in regard to DBD heart transplantation apply to DCD heart transplantation.

What do I do if I am interested or have further questions?

We understand that this may be a difficult decision for you to make. Please discuss it with your friends and relatives. If you would like to express an interest or require further clarification on anything, please call 01480 830 541 and ask to speak to the Transplant Coordination team. We will then discuss this donor option with you at your next appointment.

Endorsed by Cambridge University Health Partners


Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Papworth Everard
CB23 3RE

Telephone: +44 (0)1480 364448
Email: cpdevents@papworth.nhs.uk

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