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Diabetes Mellitus May Eventually Lead to a Kidney Transplant

Physician consulting an elderly patient

Diabetes mellitus, also known more commonly as diabetes, is a common condition that occurs when the body cannot properly regulate insulin, the hormone that converts sugars and starches into energy. Eventually, diabetes can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which can in turn cause a number of additional complications. Researchers have identified three separate types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body does not properly respond to insulin
  • Gestational diabetes, which occurs when a pregnant woman develops high glucose levels without having had diabetes earlier in her lifetime

Most patients with diabetes mellitus experience symptoms such as excessive urination and constant hunger. Patients with severe or improperly managed diabetes may also face more severe complications, such as neuropathy, vision problems, high blood pressure, and progressive kidney failure. Although a majority of patients is able to manage diabetes with diet and exercise (and in the case of type 1 diabetes, insulin), some individuals may eventually require additional therapies to manage late-onset complications. For instance, a transplant can be necessary for a patient whose diabetes mellitus has caused their kidneys to fail. Although medications and lifestyle therapies are often the first line of treatment for diabetes-related kidney failure, diabetes is still one of the primary conditions that can lead to a transplant. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) indicates that typically, a third of patients on kidney transplant waiting lists nationwide have been placed on the list due to an underlying diagnosis of diabetes. 

Tampa General Hospital’s Kidney Transplant Program performs transplants for patients who have end-stage kidney failure caused by type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus, as well as other kidney conditions. Our transplant team will evaluate all of the factors on a patient’s physician-submitted referral form to determine if a transplant is the most appropriate option for their unique situation. For more information about Tampa General Hospital’s kidney transplant selection criteria for patients with diabetes mellitus, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 5 for the kidney transplant program and ask to be transferred to the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator’s direct line at (813) 844-8686.