Pancreatic transplant surgery is a highly specialized transplantation procedure typically reserved for people living with type 1 diabetes. By transplanting a functioning pancreas into the patient, the body can control blood sugar levels, which eliminates the need for insulin. In some cases, pancreas transplant can slow the progression of diabetes and reverse complications such as damage to the eyes and nerves.
You may be a candidate for pancreas transplantation if you have type 1 diabetes and have developed severe complications, such as:
- Kidney disease (nephropathy) that is end-stage and may requires dialysis or a kidney transplant
- Eye problems (retinopathy)
- Nerve discomfort (neuropathy)
- Inability to sense when your blood sugar is low ("hypoglycemic unawareness"), a life-threatening condition
- Incapacitating clinical and emotional problems associated with insulin therapy
- Consistent failure of insulin treatment to manage diabetes complications
Under some circumstances, pancreas transplantations are also beneficial for type 2 diabetics.
Our Transplant Team
NewYork-Presbyterian is a leader in pancreas transplantation in the northeastern United States. As part of a large academic medical center, our transplant teams can call upon the expertise of a wide range of healthcare providers, ensuring that you receive the most advanced, multidisciplinary care.
Our pancreas transplant care team draws on the knowledge, experience, and talent of healthcare professionals from a variety of subspecialty areas, including:
- Social Workers
- Transplant Coordinators
- Transplant Surgeons
Pancreas Transplant Options
- Pancreas transplantation alone. We perform this procedure in people without kidney disease who have life-threatening complications of diabetes, such as hypoglycemic unawareness.
- Pancreas-kidney transplantation. This is an option for people who also need a kidney transplant but do not have a living donor; they are placed on the deceased donor waiting list for a donor who can provide both organs. Transplanting the pancreas and kidney at the same time not only treats the diabetes, but also allows the transplanted pancreas to protect the new kidney from the damage caused by diabetes.
- Pancreas after kidney transplantation. This option is for people who have already received a kidney transplant and qualify for a pancreas transplant due to their inability to control their diabetes despite aggressive medical care.
Benefits, Risks & Outcomes
Replacing a non-functioning organ with a healthy organ gives patients suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and kidney disease an opportunity to live a full life. As with any medical or surgical procedure, there are risks and benefits involved that should be discussed with your healthcare providers and your family.
In general, patients who have had successful pancreas transplant report the following benefits:
- Increased freedom. Patients who undergo pancreas transplant no longer spend hours of their day controlling their blood surgery, taking insulin, or being restricted to a specialized diet.
- Decreased diabetic complications. Pancreas transplant patients see a significant reduction or an end to their diabetes-related side effects.
- Slower disease progression. Most people with nerve damage due to diabetes find that after their pancreas transplant the damage does not get worse and in some cases, the nerves begin to repair.
Transplant patients do need to adhere to a healthy diet after surgery and will be on immunosuppressant drugs to prevent organ rejection.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of a few locations in the state offering pancreas transplantation. As one of the top hospitals in the nation, associated with two Ivy League institutions, patients at our medical centers have access to the latest surgical and medical technology, which improves patient outcomes and helps you get back to a healthy life more quickly.
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Renal & Pancreatic Transplant Program
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center
Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Program