Emergency ABO-incompatible liver transplant secondary to fulminant hepatic failure: Outcome, role of TPE and review of the literature

Robert W. Maitta, Jacquelyn Choate, Sukru H. Emre, Stephen M. Luczycki, Yanyun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The increasing demand for solid organ transplants has brought to light the need to utilize organs in critical situations despite ABO-incompatibility. However, these transplantations are complicated by pre-existing ABO antibodies which may be potentially dangerous and makes the transplantation prone to failure due to rejection with resulting necrosis or intrahepatic biliary complications. We report the clinical outcome of an emergency ABO-incompatible liver transplant (due to fulminant hepatic failure with sudden and rapidly deteriorating mental status) using a modified therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) protocol. The recipient was O-positive with an initial anti-B titer of 64 and the cadaveric organ was from a B-positive donor. The patient underwent initial TPE during the peri-operative period, followed by a series of postoperative daily TPE, and later a third series of TPE for presumptive antibody-mediated rejection. The latter two were performed in conjunction with the use of IVIg and rituximab. The recipient's anti-B titer was reduced and maintained at 8 or less 8 months post-op. However, an elevation of transaminases 3 months post-transplant triggered a biopsy which was consistent with cellular rejection and with weak C4d positive staining suggestive of antibody mediated rejection. Additional plasma exchange procedures were performed. The patient improved rapidly after modification of her immunosuppression regimen and treatment with plasma exchange. This case illustrates that prompt and aggressive plasma exchange, in conjunction with immunosuppression, is a viable approach to prevent and treat antibody mediated transplant rejection in emergency ABO-incompatible liver transplant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-329
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Apheresis
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • ABO-incompatible
  • liver
  • plasma-exchange
  • transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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