Pancreas Transplant for Diabetes

Find your care

If you need a pancreas transplant, our specialists provide expert care. Call 310-825-6836 to find out more about the Pancreas Transplant Program.

Since 1993, UCLA Health has provided pancreas transplant procedures, often along with kidney transplant. We offer all the benefits of a large, experienced transplant program in a comfortable, personalized environment.

A pancreas transplant frees many patients from insulin dependence and dangerous diabetes side effects. Our program has performed approximately 300 pancreas transplants, with outstanding results for our patients.

Why choose UCLA Health for pancreas transplant?

Our expert team offers benefits and experience other programs cannot provide, including:

  • Top-ranked care: UCLA Health is consistently ranked No. 1 in the Los Angeles region and California and among the nation’s top five hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. You have access to advanced technology and sophisticated procedures delivered by our highly skilled team.
  • Exceptional outcomes: Our program provides careful personal attention and has strong results. Our experience performing many transplants over several decades means you receive expert care. Our results are among the best in the world, with patient and graft (transplanted pancreas) survival rates of 100% for many years.
  • Multi-organ transplant: Many people who need a pancreas transplant for diabetes also need a kidney transplant. We perform both types of transplant, on the schedule that best meets your needs.
  • Highly customized care: You consistently see the same surgeon and other providers before, during and after your transplant. We get to know you and treat you like family. Learn more about what to expect in our patient education materials.

Types of pancreas transplant offered at UCLA Health

People with late-stage type 1 diabetes may also have damage to other organs, especially the kidneys. Most of the pancreas transplants we perform include a kidney transplant to relieve renal (kidney) failure. 

We offer:

  • Simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation (SPK): In SPK, we transplant the pancreas and kidney during the same operation. Both organs come from the same donor, minimizing your risk of organ rejection.
  • Pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK): If you have previously received a kidney transplant, you may be a candidate for a pancreas transplant, too. PAK can be an option if you receive a living donor kidney transplant and are waiting for a donor pancreas.

What is a pancreas transplant for diabetes?

During a pancreas transplantation for diabetes, you receive a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor. The new pancreas produces insulin. We leave your old pancreas in place to help with digestion.

After you recover, you may no longer need to take insulin to treat diabetes. Another benefit is that you will have a reduced risk for diabetes-related problems, including kidney, nerve and eye problems. Other commonly asked questions about pancreas transplant include:

What is the pancreas's purpose?

Your pancreas is a part of your digestive system. It makes enzymes, chemicals that break down food into nutrients. The pancreas also produces hormones such as insulin, which helps your body control blood sugar.

Can a pancreas transplant cure diabetes?

A pancreas transplant cures diabetes. The transplanted pancreas provides you with new insulin-producing cells, which eliminate the need for insulin shots. After a transplant, you will take daily medication to protect your new organ or organs from rejection.

Who is a candidate for a pancreas transplant?

Pancreas transplant may be an option for adults with type 1 diabetes mellitus who:

  • Cannot control their diabetes despite treatment
  • Have poor control of their blood sugar levels
  • Frequently have insulin reactions

People who are eligible for pancreas and kidney transplantation also have kidney failure and are receiving dialysis. After the transplant, you will no longer need dialysis or insulin. Instead, you will take immunosuppressant medications to prevent organ rejection.

Pancreas transplant eligibility and evaluation

You will have a transplant evaluation at UCLA Health to determine your eligibility for a transplant.

If you need a pancreas transplant for diabetes, your doctor will place you on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS manages the waitlist for available organs nationwide, based on your transplant hospital’s region.

While you are waiting, we carefully monitor your condition to keep you as healthy and strong as possible.

Contact us

To schedule an evaluation, please call the UCLA Liver and Intestinal Transplant & Hepatobiliary Surgery Program Line at 310-825-8138.