Benefits and risks of a pancreas transplant

How a pancreas transplant can help and problems that might occur

Key points

  • For selected patients with insulin-treated diabetes, a pancreas transplant can lead to a better quality, longer life
  • Most people who have a pancreas transplant do well
  • However, not every patient feels better or lives longer after having a transplant
  • There can be serious risks from the surgery and the transplant medicines

What are the benefits?

A pancreas transplant may be the best treatment for some patients with major complications from their diabetes.

Main advantages of a successful pancreas transplant:

  • Most pancreas transplant patients live longer
  • Most pancreas transplant patients enjoy a better quality of life
  • Better blood sugar control and usually no need for insulin injections 
  • Damage caused by diabetes is slowed down
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved general well-being
  • Able to eat and drink more freely

Learn about the benefits of pancreas transplantation

What are the risks?

A pancreas transplant requires complex surgery and can cause problems for some patients. 

Main complications of a pancreas transplant:

  • It is a major operation and comes with surgical risks, like bleeding
  • You will need to take medicines to suppress your immune system for as long as the transplant is working
  • It is possible that the transplanted pancreas will not work well enough to get you off insulin injections
  • There is a risk of dying. This is highest in the first few months after the operation

Learn about the risks of pancreas transplantation

Average survival statistics

Simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplants

97 to 99 out of 100

Patients are alive one year after a simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplant*

89 out of 100

Patients are alive five years after a simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplant*

Pancreas only transplants

96 out of 100

Patient are alive one year after a pancreas only transplant*

89 out of 100

Patients are alive five years after a pancreas only transplant*

More information

Discuss your options with your doctor

If you’re considering a pancreas transplant, your first step is to talk to your diabetes and kidney doctor. 

If you and your doctor agree a pancreas transplant may be a good treatment for you, they will arrange for you to have a series of tests.

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