A pancreas transplant is a procedure in which a healthy pancreas is removed from a donor and implanted into a patient, typically a patient who has serious health complications related to insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes. Such complications may include frequent insulin reactions, consistently poor blood sugar control, kidney damage, or other factors that cannot be controlled with routine diabetes treatment. 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 right lower area of the patient’s abdomen, and blood vessels from the new pancreas are attached to the patient’s blood vessels. In some cases, pancreas transplant patients are able to discontinue insulin injections.
UAB’s kidney transplantation program began in 1968, and we have been at the forefront of the field ever since. We average nearly 300 transplants per year and have worked to achieve outstanding clinical 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. Our Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program serves to increase patients’ chances of being matched with a compatible kidney.
Kidney transplant patients at UAB can expect comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate pre- and post-transplant care from an experienced, multidisciplinary team of specialists that includes surgeons, nephrologists, nurses, transplant coordinators, pharmacists, mental health professionals, and transplant social workers. Our highly skilled, dedicated surgeons and nephrologists are recognized leaders in their field, and UAB is a major training center for transplant surgeons and nephrologists now serving at some of the nation’s best medical centers. Transplant recipients initially are cared for in our dedicated transplant step-down unit within our main kidney transplant ward, which is continuously staffed by a dedicated transplant nursing team, and our 22-bed surgical intensive care unit is available when needed.
In 1988, UAB performed the region’s first simultaneous pancreas-kidney (SPK) transplant, a surgical advance that now is the accepted treatment for many patients with end-stage kidney disease caused by insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes and often enables recipients to live a fuller life, free of chronic insulin use. Since this pioneering achievement, hundreds of patients have received this innovative surgery at UAB.
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