Everything You Need to Know About Pancreas Transplants: Part II

by Columbia Surgery on April 25, 2012

Three scenarios for getting a new pancreas are possible.

  1. You may receive both a pancreas and a kidney at the same time from the same deceased donor.
  2. You may first receive a kidney from a living donor, and then later have a pancreas transplant from a deceased donor.
  3. The small percentage of patients with hypoglycemic awareness who do not have any significant kidney injury may receive a pancreas transplant alone.

In option one, if the patient’s body rejects the kidney, it will reject the pancreas at the same time. That is a small advantage because otherwise it’s hard to detect pancreas rejection, which is almost always treatable. This occurs in about 10 percent of patients.

The second option is preferable because kidney transplant results are significantly better when from a living donor. Also, it can take years to get a kidney from a deceased donor, while waiting times for a pancreas alone is much shorter.

The Operation And Beyond

Pancreas transplant surgery takes between four to six hours. A lot of that time is spent carefully preparing the pancreas. The pancreas is placed in the right side of the abdomen through a vertical incision. Another advantage to having already had a kidney transplant is a shorter, smoother operation.

Most patients go to the Intensive Care Unit for one to two days for very close monitoring, then transfer to a regular hospital floor for seven to 10 days. Follow up is similar to that after a kidney transplant: frequent at first, and eventually laboratory work once a month and office visits three to four times a year.

Dr. Lloyd E. Ratner, Director of the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Program, explains more about pancreas transplants in this video:

Related Link:
Everything You Need to Know About Pancreas Transplants: Part I

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