Since 2008, the Barnes-Jewish combined kidney/pancreas transplant program has dramatically increased the volume of transplants they perform, giving more patients than ever a chance at a longer, healthier life.
The outcomes for those transplants have been overwhelmingly positive – offering type 1 diabetics with kidney failure a better chance at long-term survival, according to Washington University transplant surgeon Jason Wellen, MD, who directs the Barnes-Jewish kidney-pancreas transplant program.
“If someone is a type1 diabetic with kidney failure or is close to developing kidney failure,” says Dr. Wellen, “there’s no question that their long-term survival is best if these patients receive a combined kidney-pancreas transplant.”
Barnes-Jewish has had extensive experience in kidney/pancreas transplant, with the first procedure performed at the hospital in 1989.
The Benefits of Kidney/Pancreas Transplant
Kidney failure is one of the most serious complications of type 1 diabetes. Statistics show that people with type 1 diabetes and kidney failure have only a 30 – 40 percent five-year survival rate, says Dr. Wellen. But with a kidney-pancreas transplant, the five-year survival rate improves to 85 percent.
After transplant, patients should no longer need insulin injections as their new, transplanted pancreas will supply all of the insulin that they need, although they will need to stay on a daily regimen of immunosuppressants.
In addition, studies have shown that patients may also experience improvements in other diabetes-related complications, such as neuropathy and vision problems. The new pancreas also prevents the recurrence of kidney failure in the transplanted kidney.
With improvements in immunosuppression and surgical technique, the success rate for kidney/ pancreas transplantation has improved over the past decade. In addition, the complications associated with the procedure have declined significantly.
Pancreas transplant after kidney transplant
One obstacle to pancreas transplantation is the shortage of cadaver organs and the long waiting time before transplantation. Currently, patients receiving a simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplant must receive the organs from deceased donors.
However, another option available at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is for candidates with an appropriate living donor to undergo a living-donor kidney transplant first, followed by a pancreas transplant from a cadaver donor at a later time. This allows the patient to benefit from the well-documented advantage of a living donor kidney transplant and at the same time minimize his or her time on dialysis. Once the patient has recovered from the kidney transplant, the patient's diabetes control can be reassessed and the patient and transplant team can then decide whether to be listed for a pancreas after kidney transplant.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the premier transplant centers in the country,” says Dr. Wellen. “Our kidney and pancreas program have excellent results due to the multidisciplinary team approach that we take to manage each and every patient. Our kidney program is one of the largest in the nation having performed 193 kidney transplants in 2009. But more importantly, our graft survivals remain one of the best in the nation."
Kidney Transplant Facts
The kidney transplant program
at Barnes-Jewish Hospital has one of the largest and most experienced kidney transplant teams in the country. Barnes-Jewish Hospital also is home to the largest kidney transplant program in the state. Surgeons here perform more than half of all the kidney transplants in the state.
The transplant surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital have performed kidney transplants for more than 30 years and today perform an average of 150 kidney transplants a year. The transplant team has consistently achieved an acute rejection rate of less than 5 percent since 1999, one of the best rates of any transplant programs in the country.
Specialists on the transplant team work together to help patients get their lives back. With transplant surgeons, transplant nephrologists and pre-transplant and post-transplant coordinators, as well as dedicated nurses, social workers, a dietitian, financial specialists and a host of other experts, we offer one of the largest kidney transplant teams in the U.S.
Living Kidney Donor Transplants Offer Higher Success
More than 1,000 people – among the highest volume in the country – have received the gift of life from a living donor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Read frequently asked questions
regarding living donor transplants.
Team Approach Means Excellent Results
While Barnes-Jewish Hospital restarted its kidney/pancreas transplant program in 2003, it has a long history in diabetes research and islet transplantation. The transplant surgeons and physicians bring extensive expertise from their experience with other busy pancreas transplant programs.
Patients who have had a kidney/pancreas transplant at the hospital since 2003 have had 100 percent survival rates. The hospital takes a caring and individualized approach to treating patients through the program. Another unique feature of Barnes-Jewish Hospital's transplant program is that we follow our patients for the life of their transplant for continuity of care. Our patients also benefit from the support groups and the mentor program we offer.
For more information on the kidney or kidney/pancreas transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call