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Penn offers several options for patients with type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the islet cells which are found in the pancreas and are responsible for making insulin are destroyed by the patient’s own immune system. The islet cells can be replaced by transplanting the entire pancreas or by placing the islet cells into the recipient’s liver. In either case the goal is to restore the patient’s ability to produce insulin and obtain glucose homeostasis without insulin injections.

Whole organ pancreas transplantation is the most complete treatment currently available to maintain blood sugar control for patients with type 1 diabetes. While not as common as the transplant of other organs, pancreas transplant offers patients the potential for an insulin-free life. Many patients who require a pancreas transplant have kidney failure and will require a kidney transplant. There are several options for pancreas transplant including:
  • Simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant (SPK)
  • Pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK)
  • Pancreas alone transplant (PAT)

Patients with type 1 diabetes and advanced kidney disease should be evaluated for both a kidney and pancreas transplant.

Islet cell transplantation is a procedure that transplants islets cells from a donor pancreas into the liver of patients with type 1 diabetes. If the transplant is successful, the new islets begin producing insulin.

Paving The Way

Penn Transplant Institute is one of the leading transplant centers in the world researching islet cell transplantation. Our pancreas transplant program was the first program in the region to offer pancreas transplant as treatment for type 1 diabetes. As a member of the Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health, we offer a number of clinical trials for islet transplantation. 


In This Section

Treatment Teams

Penn Medicine's pancreas transplant program is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of specialists who manage patient care from the evaluation visit through the transplant procedure and postoperative care.

Treatments and Procedures

Here you will learn the four major stages of a pancreas transplantation.

Penn Difference - Pancreas Transplant Program

Penn Medicine's pancreas and islet cell transplant programs are leading health care beyond the limits of conventional medicine by offering patients more options to improve their lives every day. Patients who choose Penn for their transplant have access to the most advanced care available.

Patient Stories

Penn Medicine pancreas transplant patient stories.

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