How you prepare

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Choosing a transplant center

If your doctor recommends a pancreas transplant, you'll be referred to a transplant center. You're also free to select a transplant center on your own or choose a center from your insurance company's list of preferred providers.

When you consider transplant centers, you may want to:

  • Learn about the number and type of transplants the center performs each year
  • Ask about the transplant center's organ donor and recipient survival rates
  • Compare transplant center statistics through the database maintained by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (www.ustransplant.org)
  • Consider additional services provided by the transplant center, such as support groups, travel arrangements, local housing for your recovery period and referrals to other resources

After you've selected a transplant center, you'll need an evaluation to determine whether you meet the center's eligibility requirements for a pancreas transplant.

When the transplant team assesses your eligibility, they'll consider the following.

  • Are you healthy enough to have surgery and tolerate lifelong post-transplant medications?
  • Do you have any medical conditions that would hinder transplant success?
  • Are you willing and able to take medications and advice as directed?

If you need a kidney transplant, too, the transplant team will also determine if it's best for you to have the pancreas and kidney transplants during the same surgery, or a kidney transplant first, followed by the pancreas transplant at a later date. The best option depends on the severity of your kidney damage, the availability of donors and your preference.

Once you've been accepted as a candidate for a pancreas transplant, your name will be placed on a national list of people awaiting a transplant. The waiting time for a transplant depends on your blood group and how long it takes for a suitable donor — one whose blood and tissue types match yours — to become available.

Staying healthy

Whether you're waiting for a donated pancreas to become available or your transplant surgery is already scheduled, it's important to keep your mind and body healthy.

  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Follow your diet and exercise guidelines.
  • Keep all appointments with your health care team.
  • Stay involved in healthy activities, including relaxing and spending time with family and friends.

If you're waiting for a donated pancreas, make sure the transplant team knows how to reach you at all times and arrange transportation to the transplant center in advance.

Sep. 22, 2011