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Pancreas transplant

A pancreas transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor into a person whose pancreas no longer functions properly. Almost all pancreas transplants are done to treat type 1 diabetes.

Your pancreas is an organ that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. One of its main functions is to make insulin, a hormone that regulates the absorption of sugar (glucose) into your cells. Type 1 diabetes results when your pancreas can't make enough insulin, causing your blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels.

The side effects of a pancreas transplant can be significant, so a pancreas transplant is typically reserved for those who have serious diabetes complications. A pancreas transplant is often done in conjunction with a kidney transplant.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

A pancreas transplant offers a potential cure for type 1 diabetes, but it's not a standard treatment. Often the side effects of the anti-rejection medications required after a pancreas transplant can be serious. But if you have any of the following, a pancreas transplant may be worth considering:

  • Type 1 diabetes that can't be controlled with standard treatment
  • Frequent insulin reactions
  • Consistently poor blood sugar control
  • Severe kidney damage

Because type 2 diabetes occurs due to the body's inability to use insulin properly — and not because of a problem with insulin production in the pancreas — a pancreas transplant isn't a treatment option for most people with type 2 diabetes.

If you have severe kidney damage due to type 1 diabetes, a pancreas transplant may be combined with a kidney transplant or be done after successful kidney transplantation. This strategy aims to give you a healthy kidney and a pancreas that are unlikely to contribute to diabetes-related kidney damage in the future.


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