Treatment Information

Depending on individual patient circumstances, the pancreas can be transplanted alone, as a simultaneous pancreas/kidney transplant (SPK), or pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK). Visit our kidney transplant website to learn more about kidney transplant.

This page is designed for adult pancreas transplant patients and describes who is eligible for transplant, explains the entire transplant process from beginning to end, provides a list of helpful resources.

Our Pancreas Transplant Process

Life After Transplant

If you don’t have any complications following your transplant surgery, you should be ready to leave the hospital and head home within about a week. You will receive a schedule of follow-up clinic visits for lab tests and check-ups. At these visits your doctors will track your progress and detect potential complications as early as possible.

You should bring your medication list and your surgery handbook to all follow-up visits. You will be given specific instructions for routine lab work or special tests that you might need.

Taking Care of Your New Pancreas

A donated organ is a wonderful gift that deserves to be taken care of. The most important aspects of post-transplant care are to listen to the advice of your doctors and properly taking your immuno-suppression medications. You’ll need to take this medication for the rest of your life. This will greatly decrease the chance of rejection episodes, where your immune system attacks the new pancreas.

Modern medical advances, including immunosuppressant drugs that prevent rejection of the new pancreas, make pancreas transplant complications less and less common all the time. Patient and organ survival rates are high, and life expectancy rates are good. With the experience of the Intermountain Transplant Center team and your diligent efforts to care for your new pancreas, a normal life is once again possible.

Signs to Watch For

The primary concerns for your new pancreas involve infection and rejection. Your local physician can handle many problems, such as colds or flu, adjustment of your medications, and minor infections. You need to take precautions and learn to watch for signs of infection and rejection that necessitate notifying a local physician or transplant team immediately. These include:

  • A fever that continues for more than 2 days 
  • Sudden increase in weight 
  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling of the new organ 
  • Ankle swelling 
  • Decrease in urine output 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Change in glucose control

Most patients experiencing rejection have no symptoms and the diagnosis is made solely on the basis of blood tests. There are medications available to treat rejection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can a pancreas for transplantation come from?

Deceased pancreas donors did not have significant health problems that affected their pancreas—the donor’s cause of death is usually an accident or sudden illness. Donors are expected to have good pancreas function. Pancreas donors are screened and may be excluded for positive HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or high-risk activity. Any high-risk donor characteristic will be discussed with you if you are a potential recipient for that donor pancreas.