Considering the option of a pancreas transplant can be daunting at times. By understanding the transplant process, you can equip yourself with the knowledge you need to make the best decision for your health.
At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, we combine thorough transplant education with expert guidance to prepare you for each step of the process.
Pancreas Transplant Process: Our Approach to Care
Our transplant team collaborates to care for people who are receiving a pancreas, kidney-pancreas, or kidney-after-pancreas transplant. Some of the many features of our program include:
- Personalized support: Our team is here to support you physically and emotionally throughout the transplant process. We closely monitor your health from the time of referral and evaluation through post-surgery care. We also provide counseling services and educational sessions to ensure you understand all aspects of transplantation. Our nurse coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions.
- Improved organ quality: We work closely with Mid-America Transplant, which is one of the most innovative organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the U.S. It is the first OPO in the country to use an in-house operating room to remove donor organs, including pancreases and kidneys. This process means organs are in cold storage for a shorter period of time than in other programs. As a result, organs work sooner and better after transplant.
- Excellent success rates: Our pancreas transplant outcomes consistently meet or exceed national averages. At the Transplant Center, our three-year pancreas transplant patient survival rate is more than 95%. Our experienced transplant surgeons carefully inspect the donor pancreas, increasing the likelihood of the transplant surviving and ensuring excellent patient outcomes.
- Highly skilled specialists: In addition to pancreas transplant, our transplant surgeons specialize in combined kidney-pancreas transplant and pancreas-after-kidney transplant. Our nurse coordinators are experienced in caring specifically for pancreas transplant recipients.
- Long-term follow-up: After pancreas transplant, our doctors, nurses and other specialists provide long-term follow-up care. This care includes managing medications to prevent organ rejection and infection.
The Pancreas Transplant Process: What to Expect
Our specialists help you through every step of the pancreas transplant process, discussing any questions or concerns you may have. The pancreas transplant process usually involves:
- Referral: Pancreas transplant referrals may come through our Diabetes Center or through endocrinologists anywhere in the country. When your doctor refers you to us, we connect you with a nurse coordinator. Your coordinator ensures good communication between you and the transplant team, collects necessary medical records, and schedules the transplant evaluation.
- Evaluation: We conduct a thorough medical and psychosocial (mental and social health) evaluation. This evaluation helps us understand your physical condition and any circumstances that might affect your prospects of receiving a pancreas transplant.
- Wait list: If our transplant team determines that you’re a candidate for pancreas transplant, you go on a wait list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
- Surgery: Once we find a suitable donor, we call you to the hospital for surgery. Find out more about pancreas transplant surgery.
- Recovery: You can expect to stay in the hospital for seven to 10 days after a pancreas transplant and one to two weeks after a kidney-pancreas transplant. During your stay, a team of specialists prepares you for long-term care. This team may include your surgeon, the posttransplant nurse coordinator, pharmacists, infectious disease specialists, physical therapists, dietitians and social workers.
- Follow-up: After we discharge you from the hospital, our posttransplant nurse coordinator stays in regular contact to track your recovery. You also return periodically to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for follow-up exams. Over time, we transition more of your routine care to your primary care physician. To improve the continuity of care and ensure the best outcomes, we follow our patients for the life of their transplant.
For more information about pancreas transplant or to schedule a transplant evaluation, call 866.990.7053.