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  • Procedure Time
    3 hours
  • Anaesthesia
  • Overnight stay
    5-10 nights
  • Recovery Time
    4-6 weeks

What is Pancreas?

The pancreas is a small organ located behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It is responsible for the secretion of insulin and glucagon hormones that balance blood sugar in the body and form energy stores.

Pancreas transplantation is the surgical replacement of a dysfunctional pancreas with a partial removal of the pancreas from a recently deceased or healthy person. It is a form of surgical treatment for insulin-dependent diabetes patients. The first pancreas transplant was performed at the University of Minnesota in 1966.

The biggest dream of Type 1 patients who experience diabetes at an early age is to get rid of insulin one day. After successful transplant surgeries, patients have a chance to quit insulin. At the same time, their quality of life increases. However, pancreas transplantation is not performed for all diabetic patients. There are rules to be followed for the patients who will be transplanted.

What is Pancreas Transplantation? How is it performed?

In organ transplantation, the person who gives the organ is called donor. The people selected as donors in pancreas transplantation are those who have brain death but whose organs are intact. The removed organ can be kept in a solution and cold for 20 hours until the time of transplantation. Usually, the diseased pancreas is not removed, but the healthy pancreas is placed in the lower right side of the patient's abdomen. The vessels of the new pancreas are combined with the vessels of the patient.

Pancreas transplant surgery can be done in 4 ways:

Pancreas Transplant alone: It is suitable for patients with diabetes but who has mild kidney disease or no disease related to kidney.

Combined kidney-pancreas transplant: It’s the process of transplanting kidney and pancreas simultaneously.It’s usually performed for the patients with diabetes who have or are at the risk of kidney failure.

The main goal of this procedure is to provide to the patient a healthy kidney and pancreas to make sure that the patient will not experience any disease related to diabetetes or kidney.

Pancreas-after-kidney transplant: If a suitable kidney is found, kidney transplantation can be performed first and then pancreas transplantation can be performed.

Pancreatic islet cell transplant: Although pancreatic islet cell transplantation is a new and promising method for patients with type 1 diabetes, it is still an experimental procedure applied in selected patients.

Pancreas transplant surgery is an operation that is performed together with kidney surgery and takes about 6 hours. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. After the operation, the patient is taken to the intensive care unit. Patients can stay in the hospital for 2 weeks after the operation, depending on the situation. They are followed closely for 3 months after discharge.

Who is this for?

Pancreas transplantation is usually performed in patients with Type 1 diabetes to make insulin again. Patients with type 1 diabetes have little or no insulin. They need to take insulin from the outside every day. However, they cannot be protected from the long-term complications of diabetes. Since it is a risky surgery, it is not applied to all diabetic patients. Patients who are eligible for pancreas transplant:

Type 1 diabetes that cannot be controlled with standard treatment,

Patients with a very severe reaction to insulin,

People with poor blood sugar control despite insulin

Those who experience severe and uncontrollable hypoglycemia attacks,

Those who have developed severe kidney damage.

Who cannot have a Pancreas Transplant?

Those with a medical history of cancer

HIV/AIDS patients,

Patients with active hepatitis

Severe lung disease patients

Advanced obesity patients

Those who have vascular occlusions in the neck and legs,

Cigarette, alcohol, drug addicts

What are the risks of Pancreas Transplant surgery? And what should be considered after Pancreas Transplantation?

After surgery, medications are given to prevent the body from rejecting the organ. There may be a reaction to these drugs.

There may be breathing problems after surgery.

There is a risk of developing certain cancers after a few years.

Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) may occur.

Rejection of the new organ can be seen.

Adhesion of the transplanted organ to the surrounding tissues may cause problems in the urinary tract.

It may be necessary to use immunosuppressants (medications that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection) for life.

How does the Pre-Pancreas Transplant Process work?

Before transplantation, blood tests and radiological examination are performed for transplant candidates.

Tissue and blood group are determined.

Blood and skin tests are performed to detect infections.

Electrocardiography and echocardiography, cardiac catheterization can be seen.

The patient's medical history is checked.

Weight and height are determined and the appropriate diet plan is set until the operation.

Chest X-ray is checked.

Blood pressure is monitored.

Urinalysis, kidney and liver function tests are done.

A complete blood count (CBC) is required.


Can a pancreas transplant be done from a living donor?

Pancreas transplant can be done from a living donor. In such surgeries, the tissue group of the donor must be suitable. A small part of the pancreas is surgically removed.

Does Pancreas Transplant work in the treatment of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreas transplantation is especially applied to patients with Type 1 diabetes. It has no use in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Can type 2 diabetes patients benefit from Pancreas Transplantation?

Pancreas transplantation is especially performed for Type 1 diabetes patients. There are few surgeries performed on Type 2 diabetes cases in the world.

Does Pancreas Transplantation have an effect on Sexual Life?

The quality of sexual life depends on the occurrence of complications of kidney disease and diabetes. If advanced complications due to kidney disease and diabetes have not occurred, the patient can return to normal sexual life after a short time.