Transplant Options for Patients with Diabetes

Considering transplant as a way of replacing organ failure is a big decision. There are many steps that take place in preparation for transplant. First, we have to decide if you are medically stable enough to have a major operation. To do this, we order a series of tests. This sometimes takes several months to get accomplished and any test may have a result that needs even more tests!

There are several sources of reliable information on the Internet. A couple of the best sites include UNOS.org (The United Network for Organ Sharing) and NKF.org ( The National Kidney Foundation) to get preliminary information about the transplant process.

For patients with Type 1 diabetes, a pancreas transplant may be an option. The best thing about this type of transplant is that you no longer need insulin shots and there are usually no more sugar lows.

How does a pancreas transplant help diabetes?

o You will no longer need insulin shots.
o You will be able to eat a regular diet.
o You will have fewer or no reactions from low blood sugar or insulin.
o You can be more active and independent.
o High blood sugar cannot damage your kidney, especially if you have already had a kidney transplant or will receive one with the pancreas transplant.

The most important thing that a patient can do is to partner closely with the Endocrine team (Doctor, diabetes educator, nursing staff) to stay healthy.

I think our patients say it best. Here is an excerpt from a Kidney and Pancreas transplant recipient:

I hope you don’t mind I wanted to drop you a quick letter. I could not let tomorrow go by without a note of thanks.

On May 5th, our lives changed forever because of an anonymous donor. We will be forever grateful to all of you. I admire how you had taken care of us for these years and truly made us feel special.

[Transplant Patient] has had a few ups and downs, but nothing we weren’t able to overcome together. We are excited about spending tomorrow together and just celebrating life. A life filled with trips to Disney, celebrations and free from insulin and dialysis.

Yolanda Becker, M.D.

Yolanda Becker, M.D.

If you are a diabetes patient or love someone who is, I wish you the best in the managing the disease.

Yolanda Becker, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Program
The University of Chicago

If you have questions about transplantation or think you may be a candidate, please go online to visit the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago or call 773-702-4500.  You can also click here to learn more about Yolanda Becker, M.D.

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