Pancreas transplant surgeon Joseph Scalea

A life-changing therapy for many people struggling with insulin-dependent type 1 or type 2 diabetes (particularly those with kidney failure), a pancreas transplant can actually cure diabetes in some patients.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, our pancreas transplant team has performed more than 1,000 of these surgeries. We are one of the busiest and fastest-growing pancreas transplantation programs in the United States. That experience translates to better results for our patients.

Pancreas transplantation, pioneered in the 1960s, is now one of the safest of all forms of organ transplantation.

Pancreas Transplant Surgeries

Depending on health considerations and other factors, patients may receive a:

  • Pancreas from a deceased donor
  • Pancreas and a kidney from a deceased donor
  • Pancreas from a deceased donor and a kidney from a living donor

When patients also have kidney failure, we will consider a simultaneous pancreas-kidney (SPK) transplant. Each option involves different amounts of time on the organ waiting list. Typically the wait is dramatically shorter for SPK than for a kidney alone.

Who Can Get a Pancreas Transplant?

At UMMC, the consideration for who can receive a pancreas transplantation is highly individualized. We do not automatically eliminate people based on conditions like an HIV-positive status or type 2 diabetes.

If weight loss is needed before being listed for a transplant, our nutritionist will work with you and possibly refer you for bariatric surgery.

We will consider you if you take at least 10 units of insulin daily for type 1 or 2 diabetes and have complications that make transplant a viable option. Those complications include, but are not limited to, kidney failure and hypoglycemic unawareness.

Getting Started: Pancreas Transplant

The first step is to fill out our pancreas transplant candidate form.

Evaluation

If it seems your life can be improved by a transplant, the next step is a consultation with a transplant surgeon either at one of our several locations in Maryland or with an eVisit.

Call 410-328-5408 for more information or to make an appointment.

Referrals

Physicians can refer patients for evaluation by our transplant team by filling out this online referral form or by calling 410-328-5408.

What to Expect: Pancreas Transplant

While much of UMMC's transplant process is the same for pancreas as for other organs, here are a few things to keep in mind about pancreas transplantation.

Pre-Transplant

Once on the wait list for a pancreas, you are likely to get transplanted very quickly, so the pre-transplant phase may be short.

You'll have a thorough cardiac evaluation to make sure you are safe during and after transplantation. This may involved multiple tests and doctor’s visits. You may be asked to get letters of clearance from doctors, such as your endocrinologist, nephrologist or other specialist.

Transplant

You will be called in from home for the transplant. Don’t worry, you will be given plenty of time to arrive (usually 12-24 hours). Your surgery will last about 4 hours and you can expect to be in the hospital for one week.

Post-Transplant

You will be followed very closely in and out of the hospital. You will need blood draws and doctors visits.

After transplant, you will need to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of your life to help ensure that your body accepts the new organ.

But, before long, your kidney failure and diabetes will be gone.