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.
Normally, pancreas transplant surgery lasts three to six hours. The transplant surgeon makes an incision above the groin on either the right or left side. In some instances, the incision is made in the middle of the abdomen.
For patients receiving a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant, the surgeon places the kidney on one side and the pancreas on the other. In pancreas transplant after kidney transplant, the pancreas is placed on the side opposite to the functioning kidney.
Islet Cell Transplant
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.
The goal of islet cell transplant is to inject enough islet cells into the patient so that they begin to produce insulin for maintaining normal blood sugar without the need for extra insulin injections.
As one of the leading transplant centers in the world researching islet cell transplantation, the Penn Transplant Institute is a member of the Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium.