Since 1993, UCLA has offered pancreas transplant to help certain patients overcome the challenges of diabetes, in a highly personalized environment.
A pancreas transplant can help patients with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes improve their lives, often without insulin dependence and free of the dangerous side effects of diabetes.
Why Choose UCLA for Pancreas Transplant?
Our team of expert physicians and surgeons offers benefits and experience other programs cannfot provide, including:
- Multi-organ transplant: Many patients require kidney transplant as well as pancreas transplant, either simultaneously or separately. Our team includes specialists in both types of transplant, as well as dedicated transplant coordinators and nurses to offer seamlessly coordinated care. Meet our team.
- Expertise in pancreatic conditions: The UCLA Center for Pancreas Care helps support patients through all aspects of pancreatic disease.
- Highly personalized care: Before, during and after transplant, we offer highly personalized care, along with unmatched surgical expertise. At UCLA, we see each patient as an individual with unique health needs. Learn more about what to expect in our patient education materials.
- Top-ranked patient care: Our patients benefit from the technology and sophisticated services of UCLA Health, which consistently ranks Best in the West and among the top five hospitals in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals survey.
Learn more about pancreas transplantation.
Who Might Be Eligible for Pancreas Transplant?
At UCLA, we offer pancreas transplantation as a treatment for type 1 diabetes mellitus. Pancreas transplant is a treatment for patients with Type 1 diabetes who:
- Have not been able to control their diabetes despite treatment
- Have consistently poor control of their blood sugar levels
- Have frequent insulin reactions
Patients who have severe renal failure might be eligible for pancreas and kidney transplant.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body is unable to control blood sugar levels properly. Damage can result to many parts of the body and include kidney failure, blindness, nerve problems, hardening of the arteries and other problems.
There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus affects more than 1 million Americans. Type 1 diabetes usually is diagnosed in children and young adults, leading to the term "juvenile diabetes."
- In Type 1 diabetes, physicians think the patient's own immune system destroys the beta cells, or the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
- All patients who have Type 1 diabetes need insulin shots to keep their blood sugar under control. That's why this form of the disease is also called "insulin-dependent diabetes."
- Type 2 diabetes, known as "adult-onset diabetes," is more common. It begins later in life, often after age 45. Type 2 diabetes results from the body's inability to make enough insulin to process blood sugar correctly.
Learn more about diabetes.
How Pancreas Transplant Helps Patients With Diabetes
Transplantation is well suited to the treatment of Type 1 diabetes:
- The transplanted pancreas provides the recipient with new beta cells (insulin-producing cells).
- The new pancreas eliminates the need for insulin shots for as long as the new pancreas is functioning.
- The recipient's original pancreas is left in place, and it continues to produce enzymes that help with digestion.
Frequently, patients who have late-stage Type 1 diabetes also have damage to other organs, especially the kidneys. In these cases, UCLA can offer kidney transplant in addition to pancreas transplant. Learn more about pancreas and kidney transplant.
For patients with pancreatitis, whose islet cells still function, transplantation of just the islet cells may be an option. Learn more about auto islet transplant.