Pancreas transplant surgery replaces a diseased pancreas with a healthy organ from a deceased donor. Some people also have a kidney transplant during the same procedure to treat diabetes-related damage to both organs.
Your pancreas produces digestive enzymes and insulin, which controls blood sugar. In some types of diabetes, blood sugar rises when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. This can cause organ damage.
Other conditions causing pancreas failure include:
Cystic fibrosis (CF)
Pancreatic insufficiency (not enough digestive enzymes)
Pancreas removal (trauma or tumors)
A transplant can improve health and quality of life. If you have diabetes, it reduces complications and diet restrictions. If you need multiple organs, transplants may extend life expectancy.
If your doctor refers you to Temple Health’s transplant team, multidisciplinary specialists will evaluate and interview you. They’ll discuss procedures and risks – such as infection, organ rejection or medication side effects – plus healthy lifestyle changes, before or after a transplant. If doctors advise a pancreas or pancreas-liver transplant, you go on a waitlist for compatible organ donations.
Types of transplant include:
Simultaneous pancreas-kidney: For people with diabetes and kidney failure
Pancreas after kidney: Prevents damage to new kidney in people with diabetes
Pancreas-alone: Rare, usually for people with unmanageable diabetes
Simultaneous lung-pancreas: Treats conditions that damage lungs and pancreas
Your transplant coordinator – a specialized nurse – will guide you. At the hospital, you have testing and other procedures. During surgery, your doctor places the new pancreas in your abdomen and attaches blood vessels. The surgeon attaches part of the donor’s small intestine to your intestine or bladder.
The transplant typically takes a few hours. If you have a pancreas and kidney transplant, the operation takes about six hours. After surgery, you rest before learning about medications and care. You’ll need medications for life. Your team will provide follow-up instructions and support.
Temple Transplant Edge
At Temple Health, many specialists cooperate to manage pancreas failure and related conditions. Your team has decades of successful experience treating complex problems associated with pancreas disease. You receive coordinated, top-level care. Highlights include:
Skilled team – Some of the region’s foremost pancreas and other organ transplant experts lead Temple Health’s team. Transplant surgeons and other specialists address medical challenges as well as emotional and practical needs. They have advanced expertise in caring for seriously ill patients – from evaluation through post-transplant care. Learn about your doctors.
Innovative approaches – Temple Health doctors apply the latest evidence-based advances to transplant care. Doctors partner with academic pioneers to enhance clinical care for pancreas and related diseases.
Academic hospital – Temple University Hospital (TUH) is one of the region's most respected academic medical centers. As Temple’s acute-care cornerstone, TUH ensures exceptional cross-specialty care. Learn about Temple University Hospital.