Patients must meet certain basic criteria in order to be considered a potential transplant candidate. These criteria are different depending upon the type of organ(s) needed and are just the initial indicators.
The transplant process begins with the patient’s referral to the pancreas transplant program. Patients may be referred by their endocrinologist, nephrologist or dialysis unit, or they may contact the pre-transplant office themselves. All patients must be fully evaluated by the transplant team to determine if transplantation is the best treatment option.
Initial Indications That I May Be A Candidate
Pancreas transplants are most commonly performed in patients with Type 1 diabetes although the procedure can be conducted in selected patients with Type 2 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system, for reasons yet unknown, attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. These cells produce insulin, a vital molecule that carries glucose to cells throughout the body. Glucose is the fuel that energizes cells.
A pancreas transplant is not a first-line treatment. The vast majority of Type 1 diabetics manage their glucose levels though a disciplined regimen of glucose monitoring and insulin injections. Patients that have Type 1 diabetes and chronic kidney disease may be eligible for a combined kidney-pancreas transplant.