Pancreas transplantation is a type of surgery in which you receive a healthy donor pancreas. A pancreas transplant is an option for some people with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing the hormone insulin. The usual treatment for type 1 diabetes involves daily injections of insulin.
During a pancreas transplant, you’ll receive a healthy pancreas from a donor who has died. If you have kidney failure from your diabetes, your surgeon may also do a kidney transplant at the same time. The kidney transplant may be done earlier or even after the pancreas transplant.
Who is a Candidate for the Transplant?
Candidates for pancreas transplantation must have type 1 diabetes along with nerve damage, eye problems, or another complication of the disease. Usually, health providers consider a transplant for someone whose diabetes is out of control despite medical intervention. People with type 2 diabetes still produce some insulin, so a new pancreas would not help them. A pancreas transplant also works best on people without heart or blood vessel disease. If you’re chosen for a transplant, you may be asked to stop smoking or lose weight before the surgery.
What to Expect
What’s unique about a pancreas transplant is that your own pancreas remains in your body. During the surgery, the surgeon will connect the new pancreas to your bladder or to the intestines so its digestive juices can drain. After a successful transplant, you’ll no longer need to take insulin. Instead, the new pancreas will create insulin for you. You can eat a regular diet, too. You’ll have few or no episodes of low blood sugar or insulin shock and your risk for kidney damage will go down.
Building on extensive experience and a long history of nationally-recognized care in transplant nephrology and hepatology, we are prepared to manage all aspects of the pancreatic transplant process. We are committed to promoting a patient-centered, multidisciplinary approach to the care of the patient with end-stage organ failure.
Our team of professionals is made up of SLUCare physicians, specially-trained nurses, physician assistants, social workers, dietitians, financial coordinators, a dedicated transplant Intensive Care Unit and various administrative personnel.
We are committed to delivering the highest quality care possible, and our outcomes reflect our combined focus on clinical excellence and research. With direct access to our medical team 24/7, patients referred to our Center can expect a smooth process from referral to post-surgery follow-up.
A pancreas transplant could mean a new lease on life. Your doctor will discuss ways you can take action to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a nutritious diet or exercising. To schedule an appointment or to learn more information, call us at (314) 577-8867. Our experienced team at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital will be with you every step of the way.