Diagnostic challenges in the evaluation of hepatic grafts from donors with HELLP syndrome: Case report and review of the literature

W. H. Kitchens, A. B. Adams, C. B. Hughes, R. M. Subramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver function tests, low platelets) is a rare complication of pregnancy that can result in severe complications such as hepatic infarction, subcapsular liver hematomas, and maternal brain death from cerebral hemorrhage. Recently, several investigators have described cases of successful transplantation using livers procured from donors who suffered brain death as a result of HELLP syndrome. However, this new class of marginal liver donors must be approached with caution. We report the case of a 28-year-old pregnant woman who suffered brain death due to HELLP syndrome and was subsequently evaluated for potential liver donation. Although her transaminitis and other liver function tests were markedly improving during the final days of her hospital course, her liver demonstrated segments of necrosis during attempted procurement, and the histology revealed extensive centrilobular necrosis. This case suggests that peak values of serum transaminases, as well as partial resolution of transaminitis, appear to have limited predictive ability in determining the suitability of the hepatic graft for transplantation. Thus, donors with HELLP syndrome should be approached with caution, even in the setting of laboratory values suggesting minimal or resolving hepatic injury. Furthermore, there should be an additional emphasis on obtaining and reviewing histology of the potential graft to determine its suitability for transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4010-4012
Number of pages3
JournalTransplantation proceedings
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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