About Pancreas Transplants
Learn what you can expect from South Dakota’s only pancreas transplant program, found at Avera Transplant Institute.
Purpose of Pancreas Transplant
A pancreas transplant can cure type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes. Depending on whether your diabetes causes kidney failure, you may get one of these procedures:
- Pancreas after kidney transplant
- Simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplant
- Pancreas transplant alone
Your goal for pancreas transplant is insulin independence. This means that you will no longer have to take insulin, monitor your blood sugar levels or eat a restricted diet.
The evaluation and listing phase for a pancreas transplant is very similar to the kidney transplant evaluation. Additional consults and testing may include:
- Stress echo test
- Consultation with the diabetic team
- Gallbladder ultrasound
Organ Wait List
If you’re approved for transplant, you’ll be placed on a nationwide wait list through United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for a pancreas from a deceased donor. Average wait time is between six months and two years.
When a deceased donor pancreas that’s compatible with your blood type and antibodies becomes available, the transplant team will help determine if the organ is right for you.
Pancreas Transplant Surgery
Pancreas transplantation lasts about three hours. The incision will be 8-10 inches long on your mid-line below your ribcage to lower abdomen. A surgeon will place the donor pancreas in your lower abdomen and attach it to your blood vessels and small intestine. Your old pancreas remains in place.
Expect to stay in the hospital for seven to nine days as you recover.
Monitor your health for signs your immune system is rejecting the donated pancreas. You’ll need to:
- Measure blood sugar levels, initially four times per day but gradually less often
- Track amylase and lipase levels in your blood
- Get biopsies on your pancreas
Lodging & Expenses
Get helpful information to plan for lodging and expenses during follow-up care in Sioux Falls.