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Heart transplants from donors with severe obesity may not affect outcomes

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Heart transplants from donors with severe obesity was not associated were adverse post-transplant outcomes, according to a study.

Researchers analyzed data from 26,532 transplants including 939 transplants (3.5%) that utilized hearts from donors with body mass index ≥40. These donors were more likely to have diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Approximately 67% of recipients were size matched (donor weight >130% of recipient).  One-year survival was 10.6% in patients whose donor was severely obese compared to 10.7% in patients whose donor had a BMI <40.

Researchers also noted an increase in severe obesity amongst organ donation candidates from 2003 (2.2%) to 2017 (5.3%).

The inclusion of hearts from obese donors has the potential to inflate the low donor pool, the authors concluded.


Krebs ED, Beller JP, Mehaffey JH, et al. How big is too big? Donor severe obesity and heart transplant outcomes. Circ Heart Fail. 2020; https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.119.006688.