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.
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 24 pancreas transplants in 2022. Transplant patient and graft outcomes continue to be excellent and compare favorably with local, regional and national outcomes.
Islet cell transplantation
The Northwestern Medicine Organ Transplant 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) supported clinical research unit.
During the last four years, Northwestern Medicine Organ Transplant 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 team* 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:
- 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
The experience of our physicians and nurses, along with extensive pancreas transplant activity, make Northwestern Medicine Organ Transplant Center one of the nation’s premier transplant centers.