Most people who need a pancreas transplant have Type 1 diabetes, a disease that prevents the body from producing insulin. The lack of insulin can lead to kidney disease and renal failure, conditions that prevent the kidneys from adequately filtering waste products from the blood. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can also lead to organ failure and result in the patient requiring dialysis treatments to filter the blood. Because both the pancreas and the kidneys are affected by these conditions, pancreas transplants are generally performed in conjunction with kidney transplants, sometimes on the same day.
Since 2001, Tampa General Hospital’s Pancreas Transplant Program has improved the health of insulin-dependent people through pancreas transplants following pancreas failure. As of June 2014, our program has performed almost 300 pancreas transplants, including combined kidney / pancreas, pancreas after kidney, and pancreas alone transplants. Members of our experienced, multidisciplinary team care for our patients and serve as consultants to other solid organ transplant programs at TGH. Thanks to this approach to patient care and our physicians’ involvement in multiple transplant programs at our hospital, our transplant survival rates equal or exceed those of the other programs across the country. In fact, our one-year pancreas transplant patient survival rates are better than expected and higher than the national average, according to the latest Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data released in July 2015.
Our pancreas transplant program also has one of the shortest time-to-transplant waits in Florida and the nation. On average, 50 percent of the patients on our wait list are transplanted within 3.0 months (combined kidney / pancreas) and 8.7 months (pancreas only) of listing, according to the latest SRTR data (July 2015). Thanks to our partnership with LifeLink Foundation, Inc., a nationally recognized organ procurement organization, we have the opportunity to perform a high volume of pancreas transplants. This leads to TGH transplanting patients in our pancreas transplant program almost two times faster than the nationally expected rates. In addition to meeting certain criteria outlined by our transplant program and other national organizations, patients who are deemed candidates for a pancreas transplant typically:
- Take insulin
- Have kidney failure (or have had a kidney transplant to treat kidney failure, in the case of a pancreas alone transplant candidate)
- Are 55 years old or younger
- Have no advanced vascular or heart disease
- Have no untreated psychiatric disorders
- Have appropriate social and financial support
It’s important to note that these are general guidelines to being listed for transplant at TGH. Every potential transplant candidate is evaluated individually based on the information provided on their pancreas transplant referral form, as well as other factors.
Contact Tampa General Hospital for more information about our pancreas transplant program. Call 1-800-505-7769 (press 5 for the kidney/pancreas transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator).