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
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.
- 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