Specialists and Care Centers

Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplantation Specialists and Care Centers

Northwestern Medicine is a leader in advanced therapies for patients with diabetes. The Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplantation Program has been recognized throughout the United States for its positive outcomes and innovative immunotherapies since its inception in 1992.

Pancreas transplantation

Over the past 10 years, Northwestern Memorial Hospital has the largest and most successful pancreas transplant program in Illinois. It consistently ranks among the top centers in the country, with surgeons performing 22 pancreas transplants in 2015. Transplant patient and graft outcomes continue to be excellent and compare favorably with local, regional and national outcomes.

Islet cell transplantation

The Northwestern Medicine Kovler Organ Transplantation Center is one of the premier centers in the exciting field of islet cell transplantation. Very few islet transplants are performed in the United States. Those that are performed are done under rigorous study protocols, requiring state-of-the-art clean room facilities for islet cell isolation at academic institutions that are heavily supported by clinical research resources. In 1996, our surgeons performed the first islet cell transplant in Illinois in conjunction with Northwestern Memorial Hospital's National Institutes of Health (NIH)2 supported clinical research unit.

During the last four years, Northwestern Medicine Kovler Organ Transplantation Center performed a total of 15 islet cell transplantations in seven type 1 diabetic recipients in several trials supported by the NIH. All seven patients achieved insulin independence after one or two islet cell infusions. Our rate of transplantation and success of islet cell manufacturing are among the top of all North American transplant centers funded by the NIH to participate in these trials. All of our transplant recipients under the NIH-funded trials have now exceeded at least three-year follow up period, with the majority of recipients remaining insulin free.

Since 2013, we have recruited additional type 1 diabetic patients for a new islet cell transplant trial with new immunosuppression regimens. In November 2014, we successfully transplanted our first patient under the new Northwestern Medicine protocol. Immediate insulin independence was achieved following single infusion of high quality human islets.

In addition, following the footsteps of our success in achieving transplant tolerance (a state that allows complete withdrawal of immunosuppression) in kidney transplantation, we are currently testing a robust tolerance strategy for islet cell transplantation in pre-clinical models, with the anticipation of launching a clinical trial for tolerance induction in islet cell transplantation in the near future.

The Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplantation Program

Our pancreas and islet cell transplant physicians, surgeons, nurses and coordinators are dedicated to improving the quality of life for their patients. Individually, the team1 members are highly experienced and respected medical professionals, having developed and refined many advanced medical and surgical procedures. Together, they provide a unique resource for physicians and patients who require comprehensive, state-of-the-art care.

The entire multidisciplinary transplant team is here to help you with both your decisions and your care. This group of health care professionals who have special training and experience in transplantation includes:

  • Endocrinologists
  • Nephrologists
  • Transplant surgeons
  • Transplant nurse coordinators
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Staff nurses
  • Registered dietitians
  • Licensed social workers
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • Clinical coordinators
  • Patient financial liaisons
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Pharmacists

The experience of our physicians and nurses, along with extensive pancreas transplant activity, make Northwestern Medicine Kovler Organ Transplantation Center one of the nation’s premier transplant centers.

Related Resources

Downloads

Websites

  • The American Diabetes Association (ADA)2: The nation’s leading nonprofit health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy.
  • American Society of Transplantation2: This website’s Patient Information section offers a number of resources for transplant patients.
  • Coalition on Donation2: The organization promotes organ donation and provides education about it.
  • dLife Diabetes Resources2: This comprehensive site provides diabetics with disease education, resources, research and a television show about diabetes on CNBC called dLifeTV.

  • Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network2: Website of the not-for-profit organ procurement organization that works with hospitals and donor families in the northern three-fourths of Illinois and northwest Indiana. The organization is responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for medical transplantation in the service area, as well as for professional and public education on organ and tissue donation.
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)2: This nonprofit health organization provides diabetes research, information, education and advocacy for type 1 juvenile onset diabetes. Illinois chapter2
  • National Diabetes Information Clearing House (DNIC)2: This is the part of the National Institute of Health involved in diabetic research and treatment options.
  • MedicineNet2: This site provides health and medical information from physicians on many topics, including diabetes, the pancreas and islet cells.
  • MedlinePlus2: This is a trusted source that covers all aspects of organ donation and provides easy access to medical journal articles, extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials and the latest health news.
  • National Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative2: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking this initiative to ease the critical shortage of organ and tissue donors by building a national community of organ sharing.
  • Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)2: OPTN is a unique public-private partnership that links all of the professionals involved in the donation and transplantation system. Its goals are to increase the supply of donated organs available for transplantation and the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
  • Transplant Living2: This is the United Network for Organ Sharing patient education site for all transplant patients.
  • TransWeb2: TransWeb's mission is to provide information about donation and transplantation to the general public to promote organ donation and to provide transplant families with information dealing specifically with transplant issues.
  • United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)2: Through the UNOS Organ Center, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Through its policies, UNOS ensures that all patients have a fair chance at receiving the organ they need—regardless of age, sex, race, lifestyle, religion, or financial or social status. UNOS members include every transplant program, organ procurement organization and tissue typing laboratory in the United States.
  • U.S. Transplant—Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR)2: The SRTR supports the ongoing evaluation of the scientific and clinical status of solid organ transplantation in the United States.

Legal Information
1

In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.

2

By clicking on these websites, you are leaving the Northwestern Medicine website. These websites are independent resources. Northwestern Medicine does not operate or control the content of these websites. By visiting these websites, you agree to this third party’s terms of use for their website.