Normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) has been shown to protect livers from injury between procurement and transplantation in a randomized controlled trial, where the machine was transported to and from the donor center. The aim of this study was to determine whether an alternative, more practical back-to-base approach after initial static cold storage would compromise beneficial outcomes. Between February 2015 and June 2018, a nonrandomized pilot study was performed at a single site. Outcomes of back-to-base livers (n = 26) were compared with those of grafts procured locally that underwent immediate NMP (n = 17). The primary outcome measure (safety) was defined as 30-day patient and graft survival. A total of 46 liver grafts were perfused with NMP, of which 3 were discarded based on poor ex situ perfusion function. The 30-day patient and graft survival in the back-to-base and local NMP groups were both 100% (primary outcome: safety). Despite significantly prolonged mean cold ischemia time (6 versus 3.2 hours; P = 0.001), the back-to-base livers demonstrated no difference in graft function, incidence of complications, or graft and patient survival. In conclusion, the back-to-base approach was safe, did not compromise the overall benefit of NMP, and offers a practical alternative to portable normothermic ex situ machine transport.
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