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Pancreas Transplant Surgery

lucky nealTransplantation of the pancreas has become more common within the last two decades.   This successful and effective surgery is typically done in the hands of an experienced kidney transplant team.

After patients complete the evaluation and the team places them on the organ waiting list, they have the opportunity to meet with their surgeon to review the surgical procedure, including the risks and benefits of the operation and of transplant medications. Patients remain in close contact with the nurse coordinator throughout the pre-transplant process. Once the surgery is set to begin, loved ones are directed to a waiting area where the hospital staff and operating-room team will continually keep them updated. .   The organ is transported in cold storage from the location where it is removed from deceased donor.

In general, the pancreas transplant surgery involves an incision in the right lower side of the abdomen. The pancreas has two major functions: 1) insulin production; 2) production of enzymes that aid in digestion. When the new pancreas is placed, the purpose is solely for insulin production, as the existing pancreas is still able to aid in digestion.   The pancreas is attached to blood vessels as well as either the bowel or bladder for drainage.    In most cases, the team also performs a kidney transplant surgery in the same operating room session.   Both organs generally begin to function right away.

The surgery can take up to several hours to complete. After surgery, patients go to a surgical recovery room, where the Lourdes staff closely monitors them, and the surgeon meets with family members or support persons to further review the course of events and patient status.   The post-surgical stay is usually four to seven days.

Lourdes transplant coordinators work with the team of nephrologists, transplant surgeons, nurses, social workers and other medical staff to assure a smooth transition to surgery and beyond, including advising on financial coverage, follow-up care and home-health services.   Lourdes patients have the services of coordinators specifically designated as pre- or post-transplant coordinators.

Unless their identical twin donates the pancreas, patients begin a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the donor pancreas.

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