What is a kidney and pancreas transplant?

Combined transplantation of the kidney and pancreas is performed for those who have kidney failure as a complication of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (also called Type I diabetes). Kidney and pancreas transplant candidates might be currently on dialysis or might require dialysis in the near future.

After combined transplantation of the kidney and pancreas, the kidney will be able to filter and excrete wastes so dialysis will not be needed. The transplanted pancreas will produce insulin to control the diabetes.

Am I a candidate for the double transplant?

If you have Type I diabetes and you have kidney failure, or if your doctor thinks that kidney failure is beginning, the double transplant (combined kidney and pancreas) can be considered as a treatment option. Your doctor and transplant surgeon can determine if the double transplant is needed based on your medical condition, your overall health, and the results of a pre-transplant evaluation. A pre-transplant evaluation includes a complete physical, consultations with a transplant coordinator and surgeon, and a series of tests, including heart and bladder evaluations.

Where does my new kidney and pancreas come from?

Kidneys for transplantation come from two sources: living donors and deceased (non-living) donors. Living donors are usually immediate family members or sometimes spouses. Deceased donor kidneys come from people whose families give permission for organ donation at the time of death. Three out of four kidney transplants are performed with deceased donor kidneys.

Combined kidney and pancreas transplants and single pancreas transplants are only performed with deceased donor organs.

All donors are carefully screened to prevent any transmissible diseases or other complications. The donor is also carefully evaluated to make sure there is a suitable match to your tissue and blood type.

How long will I have to wait before I receive my transplant?

It is impossible to predict how long a wait there will be before a deceased donor kidney and pancreas become available. The average wait is about 24 to 36 months; however, it's possible the wait could be from a few days to many years. Some people might have to wait longer than others for their transplants because their blood and tissue types might be less common, so it takes longer to find a compatible match.

Are pancreas transplants performed without kidney transplants?

In some circumstances, a pancreas transplant can be performed without a kidney transplant. The pancreas transplant might be performed for patients who have already had a kidney transplant or for patients who do not have kidney failure, but who have complications of Type I diabetes.

The rate of pancreas transplant complications is similar to that of a kidney and pancreas transplant, but the chances of long-term success are not as good. However, newer drugs and better tissue-matching procedures can offer a reasonable success rate. Your doctor and transplant surgeon can determine if the pancreas transplant is needed without the kidney transplant, based on your medical condition.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/01/2017.

References

  • Port, Friedrich K. et. al. "Comparison of Survival Probabilities for Dialysis Patients vs. Cadaveric Renal Transplant Recipients." Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 270 (1993), pp. 1339-1343.
  • Stratta, Robert J. et. al. "The Analysis of Benefit and Risk of Combined Pancreatic and Renal Transplantation versus Renal Transplantation Alone." Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics. Vol. 177 (1993), pp. 163-171.

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