Pancreas transplantation is an option for some patients with type 1 diabetes, as it restores the body's ability to control blood sugar levels and allows most patients to stop using insulin. Pancreas transplantation sometimes slows the progression of diabetes or reverses the secondary complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. When kidney transplantation is performed at the same time, the transplanted pancreas protects the new kidney from damage caused by diabetes.
The northeast region of the U.S. has historically had relatively few pancreas transplantation centers that each serve a large population. Over the past several years NewYork-Presbyterian has expanded its program and now treats many patients with diabetes in the New York metropolitan area, particularly those with the most complex medical and surgical challenges.
Surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center have performed pancreas transplants since 1996, and those at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, have performed pancreas transplants since 2008. Both centers also maintain active programs in metabolic surgery, a promising procedure for reversing type 2 diabetes.
Pancreas transplantation is an important option for certain patients. Doctors usually recommend the procedure when patients with diabetes mellitus also have imminent or established end-stage renal disease, have had or plan to have a kidney transplant, and also meet the following criteria:
Patients with type 1 diabetes and hypoglycemic unawareness (lack of ability to sense when blood glucose is low) may be candidates for pancreas transplantation regardless of whether or not they need kidney transplantation and despite the potential complications of immunosuppression. In such cases, pancreas transplantation may remove the need for insulin injections and may protect the native kidney.
A small subset of patients with type 2 diabetes may also be candidates for pancreas transplantation.
Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Program
Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programs