Pancreas Transplant

A pancreas transplant is a procedure in which a healthy pancreas is removed from a donor and implanted into another person, usually a patient who has serious health complications related to insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes. These complications may include frequent insulin reactions, consistently poor blood sugar control, kidney damage, or other factors that cannot be controlled with routine diabetes care. Pancreas transplants normally are done in combination with a kidney transplant.

The patient’s diseased pancreas is not removed during the operation. The donor pancreas usually is placed in the lower right area of the patient’s abdomen, and blood vessels from the new pancreas are attached to the patient’s blood vessels. Some patients will no longer need insulin injections.

UAB’s transplantation program began in 1968, and we have been at the forefront of the field ever since. We have performed over 420 pancreas and pancreas/kidney transplants and have worked hard to achieve outstanding outcomes, thanks in part to our active clinical and research efforts. We operate an outreach clinic in Mobile, Ala., allowing us to provide more convenient post-transplant care to our patients in the southern areas of the state.

Transplant patients at UAB can expect comprehensive, compassionate pre- and post-transplant care from an experienced group of specialists that includes:

  • Surgeons
  • Nephrologists (doctors who specialize in pancreas and kidney care)
  • Nurses
  • Transplant coordinators
  • Pharmacists
  • Mental health professionals
  • Transplant social workers

Our highly skilled surgeons and nephrologists are recognized leaders in their field, and UAB is a major training center for transplant surgeons and nephrologists who now serve at some of the nation’s leading medical centers. Transplant recipients initially are cared for in a dedicated area, which is continuously staffed by an experienced transplant nursing team, and specialized intensive care is available when needed.

In addition to outstanding outcomes, one thing that sets UAB apart is our willingness to perform pancreas-after-kidney (PAK) as well as simultaneous pancreas-and-kidney (SPK) transplants in suitable patients. UAB performed the region’s first SPK transplant in 1988 and has since completed hundreds of these innovative surgeries. SPK transplantation is now the accepted treatment for many patients with end-stage kidney disease caused by insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes, and it often enables recipients to live a fuller life without chronic insulin use. We also perform pancreas-transplant-alone (PTA) procedures for patients whose glucose levels are not controlled with insulin pumps and other therapies.

Alabama has a disproportionate number of people with diabetes, so we are committed to staying ahead of the curve to better serve the health of our population. For that reason, we will evaluate potential transplant candidates with type 2 diabetes who are insulin-dependent, in addition to those with type 1. Providing pancreas transplants to patients with type 2 diabetes often gives them the ability to produce additional insulin, thereby making them insulin-independent and reducing their risk of diabetic complications. In fact, new data show that their outcomes may be just as good as with patients who have type 1 diabetes, who in the past were the ones usually considered for pancreas transplantation.


Why Choose UAB for Transplant | Providing the highest caliber of care to our patients
Why Choose UAB for Transplant
Convenience, innovation, and expanded access to organs set the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute apart in providing the highest caliber of care to our patients.
Jan Jones | Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Recipient
Jan Jones | Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Recipient
After struggling with type 1 diabetes since childhood, Jan Jones was cured with a combined kidney/pancreas transplant at UAB.
Douglas Anderson MedCast Episode
Pancreas Transplant for Type II Diabetes Mellitus Patients

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