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What is pancreas transplantation?

When successful, a pancreas transplant cures diabetes, or at least reduces the number of severe episodes of low and high blood glucose. Blood sugar levels become normal because the new pancreas produces insulin.

Types of transplants

There are three types of pancreas transplants:

  • Simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant (SPK)—Because most people with type 1 diabetes who meet the criteria for pancreas transplantation also have some degree of kidney disease, simultaneous transplantation of both a pancreas and a kidney is often performed. The best success rates have been achieved with this type of procedure.
  • Pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK)—In this procedure, a pancreas is transplanted into a person who has already received a kidney transplant. This procedure generally has a success rate near that of SPK procedures.
  • Pancreas transplant alone (PTA)—In this procedure, only the pancreas is transplanted. This type of procedure is done less often, and generally has a lower success rate than the other procedure types.

Complications

As with most types of solid organ transplantation, a number of complications may occur. The most common complications include rejection of the new organ, infection and adverse effects from the anti-rejection medications that must be taken indefinitely after transplantation.

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