Orthotopic liver transplantation has emerged as the standard treatment for end-stage liver disease. In the United States, the number of listed patients has tripled in the last two decades. Organ availability during the same period has plateaued at approximately 6000 grafts annually, resulting in a fivefold increase in wait-list mortality. The problem is not specific to the United States; European and Asian registries report similar shortages. Donor pool expansion strategies such as the use of living donors, cadaveric split livers, and "extended criteria donors"; (ECD) are being pursued. Used judiciously, ECD grafts provide an opportunity for addressing the shortage. Although there is no universally accepted definition of ECD, the term generally refers to donor factors predisposing recipients to poor initial graft function and/or increased long-term risk. These factors include advanced donor age, hypernatremia, prolonged warm ischemic time, pressor requirement, and donation after cardiac death. The transplant community is scrutinizing all factors to evaluate the degree of risk they impart on the recipient and the extent to which grafts can be "matched"; to maintain acceptable outcomes. We review the importance of selected factors and the impact of a "matching"; strategy to minimize recipient risk while optimizing graft use.
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