Pancreas

The pancreas is a long, tapering organ in your abdomen next to the duodenum.

Common reasons for transplant

Most pancreatic transplants are done for people with type 1 diabetes and end-stage kidney failure.  But this is not a regular treatment for diabetes. Most diabetes can be managed with tablets and insulin.

A transplant is recommended for people who:

  • do not respond to insulin treatment
  • have kidney disease, leading to kidney failure
  • have frequent and severe hypoglycaemia

Pancreas transplant

A pancreas transplant is a complicated operation. It is not as common as kidney or liver transplants.

  • around 200 pancreas transplants are performed in the UK each year
  • the waiting time for a donated organ is between one and two years
  • sometimes, only islets are transplanted (prepared in special laboratories and then infused into the body, without the need for major surgery)

You will need immunosuppression after transplant.

Main functions

  • create hormones, especially insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels
  • produce enzymes to help with digestion

Pancreas transplant facts

  • When a new pancreas is put in, the old one is left in place to continue performing some digestive function
  • Most pancreas are transplanted together with a kidney as some people will also have kidney failure
  • You can usually live without a pancreas if you take insulin and enzyme supplements

Further information