Pancreas transplant

17. Pancreas transplant blog
  • A pancreas transplant is an organ transplant that involves implanting a healthy pancreas (one that produces insulin) into a person whose pancreas no longer can supply sufficient insulin to the body. The healthy pancreas comes from either a deceased donor, or in the form of a partial pancreas from a living donor.

  • A pancreas transplant can cure Type 1 diabetes and eliminate the need for insulin shots. the transplant also eliminates future risks of complication secondary to uncontrolled Diabetes.
    Pancreas transplant is rarely done alone. It is almost always done when someone with type 1 diabetes also needs a kidney transplant.
The pancreas makes a substance called insulin. Insulin moves glucose, a sugar, from the blood into the muscles, fat, and liver cells, where it can be used as fuel.
In people with type 1 diabetes , the pancreas does not make enough, or sometimes any, insulin. This causes glucose to build up in the blood, leading to a high level of sugar in the blood. High blood sugar over a long time can cause many complications, including:
  •  Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke
Pancreas transplant surgery is not usually done in people who also have:
  • A history of cancer
  • Lung disease
  • Obesity
  • Smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, or other lifestyle habits that can damage the new organ
  • Pancreas transplant is also not recommended if the person will not be able to keep up with the many follow-up visits, tests, and medicines needed to keep the transplanted organ healthy.
There are three main types of pancreas transplantation:

Pancreas transplant alone,

for the patient with type 1 diabetes who usually has severe, frequent hypoglycemia, but adequate kidney function.

Simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant (SPK),

when the pancreas and kidney are transplanted simultaneously from the same deceased donor. One of the most serious complications of type 1 diabetes is end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or end-stage kidney disease, which may require a kidney transplant. A kidney transplant without a pancreas transplant means you must take anti rejection medication for the kidney and continue to take insulin.The possibility of diabetes damaging the new kidney and other organs also remains. Successful combined kidney-pancreas transplants prevent diabetic damage in newly transplanted kidneys as well as eliminate the need for insulin therapy. In the best case scenario, a patient would receive a new kidney and pancreas from the same donor.

Pancreas-after-kidney transplant (PAK) ,

when a deceased, donor pancreas transplant is performed after a previous kidney transplant.
After your pancreas transplant, you can expect to:
  • Stay in the intensive care unit for a couple of days. Doctors and nurses monitor your condition to watch for signs of complications. Your new pancreas should start working immediately, and your old pancreas will continue to perform its other functions.
  • If you have a new kidney, it’ll make urine just like your own kidneys did when they were healthy. Often this starts immediately. But in some cases, it may take up to a few weeks to reach normal urine production.
  • Spend about a week in the hospital. Once you’re stable, you’re taken to a transplant recovery area to continue recuperating. Expect soreness or pain around the incision site while you’re healing.
  • Have frequent checkups as you continue recovering. After you leave the hospital, close monitoring is necessary for three to four weeks. Your transplant team will develop a checkup schedule that’s right for you. During this time, if you live in another town, you may need to make arrangements to stay close to the transplant center.
  • Take medications for the rest of your life. You’ll take a number of medications after your pancreas transplant. Drugs called immunosuppressants help keep your immune system from attacking your new pancreas. Additional drugs may help reduce the risk of other complications, such as infection and high blood pressure, after your transplant.
Dr. Harsh J Shah