Who Is a Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplantation Candidate?
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes that’s difficult to control, you might be a candidate for pancreatic and islet cell transplantation.
In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin, so patients must take insulin to live. Over time, diabetes can cause complications such as:
- Kidney failure
- Neuropathy (problems with nerves, such as numbness and pain)
- Poor circulation that may result in amputation
- Retinopathy (decreased vision or even blindness)
- Hypoglycemic unawareness (low blood sugars that you do not realize are low)
- Earlier onset of heart disease
- Gastropathy (digestive problems)
If you are experiencing those complications, talk to your physician* about pancreas and islet cell transplantation. Criteria for acceptance as a pancreas transplant include:
- A pancreas transplant could improve your quality of life.
- You have no other diseases that cannot be treated.
- You are not so sick that you are not likely to survive the transplant surgery. All other medical or surgical treatments either have not worked or are not a good choice for you.
- There are no other contraindications.
- You and your support system (family, friends) understand and accept the risks of having a kidney/pancreas transplant.
- You and your support systems are fully committed to and compliant with what is needed before and after the transplant, to make the transplant a success. This would include access to funding for the transplant procedure, post-transplant medicines and other healthcare costs. The social worker and patient financial liaison may be able to help find other ways to pay for your care.
A pancreas transplant is not an option for patients who have:
- Severe, untreatable heart or lung disease
- Active or uncontrollable cancer
- Untreatable mental illness
- Alcohol or drug addiction
- Severe neurologic deficit
- Severe peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
- Uncontrollable infection that will not go away with a transplant
- Uncontrolled HIV infection with AIDS despite optimal medical therapy
- Irreversible brain disease or damage
- Failure of other organs that will not improve with a transplant
If you are approved for a pancreas or islet cell transplant, your name will be put on a waiting list to receive a donated organ or islet cells. People with the most urgent need are placed at the top of the list. Never will race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation have any part in deciding if a patient is a transplant candidate.
Auto-islet transplantation following total pancreatectomy
If you are facing a total pancreatectomy due to chronic pancreatitis, you may be an eligible candidate for our auto-islet transplantation program. Once your pancreas is removed by the pancreatic surgeons, the islet cell team* will isolate the islets of Langerhans. These cells will be infused through the portal vein into your liver. Because they are your own cells, no immunosuppression is required. If successful, you will not become insulin-dependent; rather, you will have the same glycemic (blood sugar) control as prior to pancreatectomy.