Pancreas transplantation is a treatment option for some patients with diabetes. When a compromised pancreas is unable to produce insulin, transplant of a new functioning pancreas corrects the condition. While the effects that diabetes has previously placed on an individual’s body are non-reversible, pancreas transplant helps to stop the diabetic disease process and lends added health for the future.
Generally, patients who qualify for pancreas transplant (with some exceptions) also have or are near end-stage kidney disease. Treatment options for pancreas transplant include:
• simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant (SPK)
• pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK)
• pancreas alone transplant (PAT).
In the case where a patient is fortunate to have a living kidney donor, the patient would have the living kidney transplant first and then be listed for a pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK). Pancreas alone transplants (PAT) are only appropriate in rare circumstances.
After an organ donor passes away, the transplant team must harvest the donor organ(s) quickly. The team tissue types the organs, and the UNOS system matches them with a patient on the pancreas transplantation waiting list. The transplant system often transfers the donor pancreas (and/or kidney) from one hospital or medical center to the nearest transplant program that is accessible to the selected recipient. Listed recipients waiting for such organs must be ready to arrive quickly to the transplant center when an organ becomes available. The surgery will occur within 24 hours of the organ becoming available.
Studies have shown that a pancreas and kidney transplant in select patients with diabetes and end-stage renal disease can provide significant improvement in quality of life. Patients may no longer require insulin therapy and the body is in an environment of good blood sugar control. Lourdes invites patients and their loved ones to learn more about this life altering treatment.
Organs for pancreas transplant are always deceased donor organs, as it is not possible for living donors to donate their pancreas.
The transplant recipient’s medical expenses associated with pancreas transplants are generally covered by the recipient’s insurance. The Lourdes transplant team’s finance manager can advise on insurance coverage and assist patients in developing a financial plan.