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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Pancreas Transplant - When Is It Required?

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Dr. Goutham KumarGeneral Surgeon • 18 Years Exp.MBBS, MS - General Surgery, Fellowship - American Society of Transplant surgeons
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Pancreas Transplant is a surgical procedure where the damaged pancreas is taken out of the body of the patient and transplanted with the healthy ones from the donor’s body.
The pancreas is located in the middle part of the body that helps in the secretion of insulin in the body. Insulin helps in the absorption of sugar in the body and helps in maintaining glucose level. If the pancreas is not producing insulin in sufficient quantity than the patient is likely to suffer type 1 diabetes.

Most of the pancreas transplants are done to cure the extreme conditions of type 1 diabetes. However, the transplants are done only in case of severe diabetic conditions because the pancreas transplant has serious side effects and not always pleasant after surgery recovery.

Why is the Pancreas Transplant Done?
There are several reasons for doctors choosing for pancreas transplantation. One of the most reason is the type of diabetes. However, they are also performed along with the kidney transplantation, when damage to the kidney is done by diabetes.

Following reasons are worth considering for pancreas transplantation:
● Extreme and severe type 1 diabetes
● Kidney damage
● Type 2 diabetes due to a lower level of insulin usage in the body
● Poor blood sugar level

Types of Pancreas Transplantations-

● Pancreas Transplant Alone:
The pancreas transplantation is done solely for the diabetic patient whose kidney is unaffected and does not require any surgery along with pancreas transplant.

● Pancreas Transplantation Along with Kidney Transplant: This kind of surgery is done by the doctors when the patient has weak kidney and damaged pancreas. In such a scenario, only kidney transplantation is not sufficient and requires new pancreas for overall development.

● Pancreas-after-kidney Transplantation: For patients who have been waiting long enough for a donor for pancreas and kidney both, this is a better solution. Since the waiting list to get, such donor is long and not probable. Doctors prioritize and perform kidney transplantation first since the condition for kidney transplantation is rather severe and affected. Then after pancreas transplantation is done when a suitable donor is found.

● Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplant: Pancreatic islet cells are responsible for producing insulin into the body. So, doctors perform surgery on the patient and inject the pancreatic islet cells from donor’s pancreas to the patient under operation.

Complications of the Procedure-
Some of the common complications of the procedure are:

● Blood clots
● Excess sugar in the blood
● Failure of the donated pancreas
● Transplant rejection
● Urinary tract complications

Pancreas Transplant is done when the patient is severely diabetic and is not curable with only medication. The doctors suggest the post-surgery rest. The patient is required to be hospitalized for one week at least and keep strict follow-up routine to look after the effects of transplantation.


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