ISMETT, first center in Italy for use of surplus liver donors from other regions in 2018-2020

ISMETT is the first center in Italy for liver transplants performed using organs reported as surplus by other [Italian] regions and therefore rejected, also known as “marginal organs”. Data from a report of the Italian National Transplant Center (CNT) indicates that between 2018 and 2020, 44 of the 230 liver transplants performed in the three-year period were carried out using marginal organs.

“The use of marginal organs,” says Dr. Salvatore Gruttadauria, Director of the Department for the Treatment and Study of Abdominal Diseases and Abdominal Transplantation at IRCCS ISMETT, “has allowed us to increase the number of potential liver donors, and reduce mortality on the waiting list.” The survival rate of patients receiving marginal organs overlaps that of patients transplanted with grafts from donors at standard risk. 

The use of marginal organs can also be considered a result of a new study on the use of simvastatin, a drug normally used to keep under control cholesterol. The study investigates the efficacy of administering Simvastatin to brain-dead donors to prevent ischemic and reperfusion injury, which can occur when blood flows back to the tissue after a period of suspension which is one of the major causes of complications after a liver transplant.
 “These data,” says Giorgio Battaglia, Regional Coordinator of Sicily’s Regional Transplant Center (CRT), “further confirms the excellence of the Sicilian transplant network. This trial is of great importance to meet the needs of many patients on the liver transplant waiting list.”

The clinical trial, financed by the Italian Ministry of Health through the 2013 Finalized Research Call, was conducted by two research groups operating in two Sicilian centers of excellence: IRCCS-ISMETT-UPMCI and the Ri.MED Foundation. The results of the study will be presented on November 13 by Dr. Duilio Pagano, ISMETT surgeon and principal investigator of the study, during the Presidential Plenary Session of The Liver Meeting, the most prestigious international congress for liver diseases organized by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).