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Kidney-Pancreas Transplant

During a kidney-pancreas transplant, a surgeon will replace your kidney and pancreas with donor organs simultaneously. Kidney-pancreas transplants treat both renal failure and diabetes in people who are on insulin therapy.

When you have Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes that requires insulin therapy your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar levels in your body. When you undergo a successful kidney-pancreas transplant, your new pancreas will produce insulin and, ultimately, correct the diabetes. You will no longer need insulin therapy and dialysis after this procedure.

Kidney-pancreas donors

Your new kidney and pancreas will come from a donor, which can include one of the following:

  • Deceased donor: From a registered organ donor who has recently passed away
  • Living and deceased donor: Kidney from a living donor and pancreas from a deceased donor

Your wait time for a donor kidney and pancreas will be shorter than a wait for a donor kidney for a kidney transplant alone.

Am I a good candidate for a kidney-pancreas transplant?

Before receiving a kidney-pancreas transplant, you’ll undergo a number of tests to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. Some of the criteria for receiving a kidney-pancreas transplant include the following:

  • You are under 60 years old
  • You have end-stage kidney disease or renal failure
  • You have diabetes and are on insulin therapy

Kidney-pancreas surgery

Before surgery

  • You will be put under general anesthesia so that you will not feel any pain during your surgery.
  • You’ll need a temporary bladder catheter to measure your urine output.
  • You may also have a central venous catheter (usually placed in the neck) to allow your care team to draw blood and give you intravenous (IV) medications before, during and after the surgery.

During surgery

  • Your surgeon will make an incision on your abdomen. 
  • Your surgeon will implant the donor kidney first on the left side of the lower abdomen.
  • After implanting the kidney, your surgeon will then implant the pancreas on the right side of your lower abdomen. 
  • Your surgeon will usually not remove your own kidneys or pancreas during the surgery.
  • Your simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplant surgery will take four to six hours.

Immediately after surgery

  • After your surgery, you will be in the surgical intensive care unit for close monitoring.
  • Your care team will transfer you to the transplant unit, where you will recover for about five days.
  • You will begin taking immunosuppressive or antirejection medications immediately after surgery, and will continue to take these medications for the rest of your life.

Benefits of the kidney-pancreas transplant

A successful kidney-pancreas transplant can significantly improve your quality of life with some of the following benefits:

  • Freedom from dialysis
  • Fewer dietary restrictions
  • Slowed, halted or reversed progression of diabetes-related complications, such as vision, nerve and kidney damage
  • Longer survival of the transplanted kidney (compared to people with diabetes who receive kidney transplant alone)

Why choose Rush for kidney-pancreas transplant

  • High survival rates: Rush has one of the nation’s best patient and graft survival rates, with 100 percent one-year survival since 2006, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.
  • Extensive experience: Rush has been an actively involved in local and national organ-sharing programs for nearly 30 years. Specialists in the transplant program at Rush are highly experienced in complex cases and the most advanced transplant techniques and procedures.
  • Multidisciplinary team: A team of multidisciplinary transplant specialists at Rush coordinates the efforts of more than 100 other health care professionals at the Medical Center who are involved in the care of each transplant patient.
  • Supportive care: The transplant team at Rush includes social workers and financial coordinators to help you navigate the social, emotional and financial aspects of undergoing transplantation.
  • Top program: The nephrology program at Rush is consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.