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Pancreas Transplant

Since opening in 1995, the Texas Transplant Institute has performed more than 100 pancreas transplants and combination kidney-pancreas transplants, making us the most preferred program in Texas. Pancreas transplant patients are cared for by the same multi-disciplinary team that serves our kidney transplant program.

Our dedicated team of clinical research experts provides patients access to the newest developments in transplant medications and disease management. We perform the following pancreas transplant surgeries.

Combined kidney-pancreas transplant

When type I diabetes is the cause of kidney failure, a kidney and pancreas transplant may be considered. The pancreas and kidney transplant occur simultaneously. This type of transplant will require a longer hospital stay.

Pancreas after kidney transplant

To prevent damage to the newly transplanted kidney, a new pancreas can stop the progression of type I diabetes. After a kidney transplant, the transplant physician will determine if this procedure is necessary.

Pancreas transplant alone

A pancreas transplant alone is indicated for a patient whose kidneys have not yet been damaged by diabetes.

Pancreas transplant surgery usually lasts about hours. A combination kidney-pancreas transplant takes a few more hours.

The transplant surgeon will place the new pancreas into the lower abdomen. The patient’s own pancreas will be left in place to aid in digestion. If the patient is also receiving a kidney transplant, the blood vessels of the new kidney will be attached to blood vessels in the lower part of the abdomen.

Following the operation, expect soreness or pain around the incision site while recovering. Recovery time in the hospital is usually about seven to ten days, followed by close monitoring for an additional three to four weeks.

The pancreas is a small organ, approximately six inches long, located in the upper abdomen and connected to the small intestine. It is an essential organ in the digestive process and has the following functions:

  • produces enzymes necessary to digest protein, fat and carbohydrates so that they can be absorbed through the intestine
  • produces cells that produce insulin which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels

When the pancreas stops producing insulin, the patient becomes diabetic and the long-term effects of high glucose eventually affects the kidneys. One of the most common diseases which affects the pancreas is insulin dependent diabetes, or type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter our cells.

Without insulin, glucose cannot get into the cells that make up our muscles and other tissues. Lack of insulin can lead to complications such as high blood sugar and damage to blood vessels and other tissues. Eyes, nerves, and the kidneys are very vulnerable to this damage.

If you have severe type I diabetes you might be a candidate for a pancreas transplant. A successful pancreas transplant can avoid the need for insulin therapy, and can help to decrease diabetes related complications.