At Mayo Clinic, the pancreas transplant process involves many steps before, during and after your pancreas transplant surgery.
Mayo Clinic doctors trained in pancreas transplantation and other members of the transplant team evaluate you and determine whether a pancreas transplant may be safe and beneficial for you. Your evaluation usually lasts three days and may include:
Once you're approved for a pancreas transplant, you'll be placed on a waiting list for a donor. Remain in close contact by phone with the transplant team, and notify your transplant coordinator of any significant changes in your medical or social situation. Be prepared to get to the hospital quickly, within eight to 12 hours, after you receive notice that a donor pancreas is available. Also, maintain your general health as much as possible.
Before your transplant, you'll have blood tests to ensure that your body is compatible with the potential donor's organ and to check that antibodies in your body don't react to the donor's cells.
Surgery usually takes three to four hours. During surgery, your surgeon makes an incision down the center of your abdomen. Your surgeon places the donor pancreas and a small part of the donor's intestine in the right side of your pelvis. Your pancreas usually isn't removed, because it will continue to aid in digestion. Your surgeon connects the donor's pancreas to blood vessels that supply blood to your legs and connects a small portion of adjacent donor intestine to your small intestine. Your pancreas transplant often begins to function immediately, and your insulin needs may be minimal if any.
Mayo Clinic offers many transplant options for people with diabetes. Some people may receive a pancreas transplant at the same time as or after receiving a kidney transplant. Others may need only a pancreas transplant without plans for a kidney transplant. Mayo Clinic surgeons have expertise in kidney transplant surgery and pancreas transplant surgery, and surgeons work as an integrated team in kidney and pancreas transplants.
After your transplant, you'll likely stay in the hospital for five to seven days to recover. Your treatment team will monitor your recovery progress in the hospital, including checking your incision area, helping you manage your pain, assisting with emotional concerns, educating you, adjusting any insulin needed and checking for any signs of rejection or complications.
After leaving the hospital, you'll need to stay near Mayo Clinic for several weeks so that your doctors can monitor the function of your new pancreas and your recovery.
Request an appointment with a Mayo Clinic doctor to determine if transplant is right for you.
Read more about getting ready for your transplant.
Watch Mayo Clinic transplant surgeon Mark Stegall, M.D., discuss pancreas transplant on YouTube.