Pancreas transplantation is the most complete treatment currently available to maintain blood sugar control for patients with type 1 diabetes. Islet cell transplantation is a procedure that involves transplanting islets cells from a donor pancreas into the liver of a patient with type 1 diabetes.

There are four major stages in the transplant process at Penn Medicine.

  • Evaluation
  • Preparing for transplant
  • Transplant surgery
  • After transplant care

Once identified as pancreas or islet cell transplant candidates, patients undergo an extensive evaluation to determine if transplant is the best treatment option. If the Pancreas Transplant team determines that transplant is a viable treatment option, the patient’s name and information is added to the national United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant waiting list.

Most of the pancreas transplant surgeries performed at Penn Medicine are simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplants. Many people with type 1 diabetics suffer from kidney failure as a result of their disease. In most cases, both organs are transplanted at the same time.

Islet cell transplantation is a procedure that involves removing islet cells from a donor pancreas and transplanting them into the body of the recipient. There is no surgery involved in islet cell transplantation. Instead, a needle is placed directly into the liver through the skin and the islet cells are injected into the portal vein so that can begin to produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar without the need for extra insulin injections.

After leaving the hospital, patients are expected to return to the Penn Transplant Institute for ongoing therapy and medical care and are monitored for any signs of infection, rejection or medication side effects.

  • Pancreas Evaluation

    The first step to determine if a pancreas transplant is the right treatment option for you, is to undergo a thorough evaluation with the Penn transplant team.

  • Pancreas Waiting List

    If the Pancreas Transplant team determines that transplant is a viable treatment option, the patient’s name and information is added to the national United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant waiting list.

  • Pancreas Transplant Surgery

    Most of the surgeries performed at Penn Medicine are simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplants. Many type 1 diabetics suffer from kidney failure as a result of their disease and, in most cases, both organs are transplanted at the same time.

  • Post-Pancreas Transplant Surgery

    Patients who undergo a pancreas transplant are treated in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit after the surgery is completed. Patients can expect to stay in the hospital up to ten days post-operation.

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