A pancreas transplant is an operation to treat diabetes by replacing the need for insulin with a healthy insulin-producing pancreas from a donor who has recently died.
The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that produces both digestive juices and hormones, such as insulin, that help the body break down food and turn it into energy.
A pancreas transplant is sometimes recommended as a treatment for people with insulin-treated diabetes, such as Type 1 diabetes , who are unable to produce their own insulin.
This page covers:
A pancreas transplant allows people with type 1 diabetes to produce insulin again. It is not a routine treatment because it carries significant risks, and treatment with insulin injections is often effective.
A pancreas transplant is usually only considered if:
If your doctor thinks you might benefit from a pancreas transplant, you'll need to have adetailed assessment to check whether you're healthy enough to have one, before being placed on awaiting list.
The donor pancreas and donor kidney, if you're having a kidney transplant at the same timeis then placed inside, and attached to nearby blood vessels and your bowel.
The new pancreas should start producing insulin straight away. Your old damaged pancreas will be left in place and will continue to produce important digestive juices after the transplant.
Most people are able to get back to their normal activities within a few months.
Your transplant team can give you advice about how long you may need to avoid certain activities during your recovery.
You'll need to have regular check-ups with your transplant team after the transplant.
You'll also need to take medications called immunosuppressants for the rest of your life. Without these medicines, your body will recognise your new pancreas as foreign and attack it this is known as rejection.
Apancreas transplant is a complex and risky procedure.
Possible complications include:
Many of these problems are treatable, although sometimes it may be necessary to remove the donor pancreas.
The outlook for people with a pancreas transplant isusually good:
The donor pancreas can be removed if itstops working, and it may be possible to put you back on the waiting list for another transplant.
Find out why pancreas transplants are carried out, what they involve, and the potential risks.
Find out about when a pancreas transplant may be considered, how you will be assessed to determine if one is suitable, and who might not be able to have one.
You will be referred for an assessment if a pancreas transplant is thought to be a suitable option.
Find out what happens during a pancreas transplant and islet transplant.
Find out what happens after a pancreas transplant, including how long you may need to stay in hospital and the ongoing care you'll need.
Find out about the possible complications of a pancreas transplant, including rejection of the donor pancreas and side effects from immunosuppressant medication.
Ivy Ashworth-Crees, who used to have diabetes, talks about how much better her life is since her double kidney and pancreas transplant.