Pancreas Transplant

Allograft - a graft (organ) from another individual.

Antibody - a protein produced by the body to eliminate foreign substances, such as bacteria

Anti-rejection Drugs - see immunosuppressive agents.

Antigen - a substance that triggers an immune response. This response may be the production of antibodies which try to inactivate or destroy the antigen of a transplanted organ.

Bacteria - small germs that can cause disease.

Biopsy- the removal and examination of tissue sampling for diagnosis.

Chronic hyperglycemia - extended periods of blood glucose levels above normal range.

Diabetes - a disease in which patients have high levels of sugar in their blood

Deceased Donor - an individual who has recently died of causes that do not affect the function of an organ to be transplanted.

Diabetic Lesions - microscopic damage to the kidneys; most often the result of chronic hyperglycemia.

Dialysis - the process of cleansing and achieving chemical balance in the blood of patients whose kidneys have failed.

Immune Response - any defensive reaction to foreign material by the immune system

Immune System - the body’s natural defense system against foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria, some types of cancers, and transplanted organs or tissue

Immunosuppressive agents - drugs that help treat or prevent the immune system from rejecting an organ or tissue transplant.

Insulin - substance produced by the pancreas that helps the body absorb blood sugar from the blood into cells to produce energy.

No glossary terms available

Non-compliance - failure of patients to follow the instructions and recommendations of their medical team, such as not taking medicine as prescribed or not showing up for clinic visits

Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) - The purpose of the OPTN is to improve the effectiveness of the nation's organ procurement, donation and transplantation system by increasing the availability of and access to donor organs for patients with end-stage organ failure. Administered by UNOS (United Network Organ Sharing), it provides a unique public-private partnership that links all of the professionals involved in the donation and transplantation system.

Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) - An organization designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that is responsible for the procurement of organs for transplantation and the promotion of organ donation. OPOs serve as the vital link between the donor and recipient and are responsible for the identification of donors, and the retrieval, preservation and transportation of organs for transplantation.

Organ Rejection - an attempt by the immune system to reject or destroy what it recognizes to be a "foreign" presence (for example, a transplanted kidney).

Pancreas - 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 it produces insulin.

Pancreas After Kidney Transplant (PAK) - a pancreas transplant that is done after a kidney transplant.

Pancreas Transplant Alone (PTA) - a pancreas transplant without a kidney transplant.

Rejection - an immune response against grafted tissue in which a recipient’s body rejects tissue or organ transferred from a donor.

Simultaneous Pancreas and Kidney Transplant (SPK) - a transplant procedure where both a kidney and the pancreas are transplanted at the same time.

Survival Rates - indicate how many patients or grafts (transplanted organs) are alive or functioning at a set time post transplant.

Type I Diabetes - an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin to control an individual’s blood sugar, most often occurring in children and young adults.

Type II Diabetes - a metabolic disorder resulting from the body’s inability to properly use insulin. It often can be controlled with diet, exercise and oral medication or insulin injections.

UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) - a national agency that maintains a national computerized transplant waiting list and helps locate donor organs.

Virus - a germ that causes infection.

Waiting List - After a patient has concluded evaluation by the transplant physician, he/she is added by the transplant center to a national waiting list. Lists are specific to both geographic area and organ type. Each time a donor organ becomes available, UNOS generates a list of potential recipients based on factors that include genetic similarity, organ size, medical urgency, and time a patient has been on the waiting list.

Who qualifies for a pancreas transplant or a combined kidney-pancreas transplant?

The indication for a pancreas transplant is type I insulin dependent diabetes in a patient with a well functioning kidney or transplanted kidney. The indication for a combined kidney-pancreas transplant is type I insulin dependent diabetes with kidney failure.

I have type II insulin dependent diabetes, do I qualify for a pancreas transplant?

Unfortunately not; type II diabetes is caused from insulin resistance, not lack of insulin production. A new pancreas would not provide sufficient insulin production to maintain an insulin-free state.

Will my insurance pay for a pancreas or combined kidney-pancreas transplant?

Private insurance, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, provides coverage for pancreas transplants. However, the costs may not be fully reimbursed. Our financial coordinators can assist you with information and planning.

How long will it take before I don't need insulin?

Typically, you are insulin-free immediately after surgery, but in rare cases it can take 24-48 hours.

How long will I wait for a pancreas transplant?

The waiting list varies according to blood type. The range is three months to two years.

Do I have to continue to have follow-up appointments at the Transplant Center?

Yes. Immediately after transplant you will appointments every two to three months. Visits will be annually after two years.

How long will I be in the hospital?

The average length of stay is 7 to 10 days, but it could be longer.

How long will my organs last?

Each pancreas transplant is different but the overall success rates of pancreas transplant are very good. Average national pancreas graft survival rates are: 90% at one month, 85% at one year, and 70% at five years.

How will I be evaluated as a transplant recipient?

The process begins with a referral from your physician. Our transplant specialists review your medical records, and contact you and your physician to inform you of expectations and schedule a half-day appointment for a pre-transplant evaluation. Following the evaluation, our transplant team makes a recommendation whether to proceed with the transplant process.