Mayo ClinicLiver transplantation as the name suggests refers to the replacement of a healthy liver in a patient. There is common assumption shared that the success of a liver transplant depends on the donor’s race. But a recent study initiated by the Mayo Clinic claimed that donor race cannot be held as the sole indicator of graft failure in liver transplantation.

Authors affirmed that around 16,000 people are waiting for their liver transplants in the United States itself. This study may contribute knowledge about donor organ quality. The study authors analyzed the biological factors of previous donors who revealed poor outcomes. They also examined other factors such as the body size of the donors. They concluded that donor race need not be the uniform guide to display graft failure in liver transplantation.

Ray Kim, M.D., gastroenterologist and hepatologist shared, “A superficial look at the data suggests some correlation between donor race and outcomes. But when we dug deeper, we found that a true reason emerged for the difference in outcomes. Race may appear to be an important factor but, in reality, outcomes were more likely influenced by factors such as where the transplantation took place and whether the size of the organ was appropriate for the recipient, for example. Further, we found no evidence that liver transplantation across racial boundaries is associated with lower outcome than racially concordant donor-recipient cases.”

The experts scrutinized the data gathered by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. It included information of almost 11,000 adult patients who underwent primary liver transplantation in the United States from January 2003 to December 2005. The investigators studied the link between graft failure and donors race. The donors apparently either came from the African-American, Caucasian, Asian/Pacific Islander race or belonged to the Hispanic origin. Even after observations the scientists detected the same.

Dr. Kim explained, “In the absence of biologically plausible mechanisms, it is inappropriate to designate non-white donors as ‘marginal.’ Such a practice will not only further discourage organ donation among minority individuals, but also may create a perpetual misconception as their so-called ‘marginal’ organs are directed to ‘marginal’ recipients who may not have had as good of a chance for success due to their medical issues, and thus further decrease the chance for a successful outcome of transplantation.”

This study seemingly revealed that a donor’s race should not be considered as the ultimate predictor, as this may curb organ donation especially among the minority groups. The authors maintained that race probably does not contribute as a major indicator but the result of the liver transplantation can supposedly be also affected by the place where the transplantation occurred and other such similar factors.

The study will be published in the June 2010 issue of Gastroenterology.