Steps towards a pancreas transplant

This outlines the entire pancreas transplant process

Key points

  • Your pancreas transplant doctor will discuss your options with you and arrange any transplant tests
  • It may take a long time to match you to a suitable donor, and sometimes a donor cannot be found
  • A transplant is a major operation and complications can arise during and after surgery
  • After a transplant, you will need to take daily medicines for as long as the transplant continues to work

1. Discuss your options with a doctor 

Your pancreas transplant doctor will be able to advise on whether a pancreas transplant is the right treatment for you. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you, along with possible other treatment options.

Having a pancreas transplant is a big decision and every patient's case is unique. You will need to take daily medications for as long as the pancreas transplant continues to work and there is a chance the transplant will fail.

Learn about the risks and benefits of a pancreas transplant

2. Tests to see if you’re suitable for a pancreas transplant

If your doctor thinks a pancreas transplant is a possible treatment for you, they will arrange for you to have a series of tests.

These are to find out whether your body can cope with the surgery and whether you have certain antibodies, which could make it more likely for your body to reject the transplant.

Find out what tests are needed

3. Waiting for a pancreas

This can be a lengthy process as it relies on matching you with a compatible donor.

To receive a pancreas from a deceased donor you will need to go on the national transplant list and wait to be matched with a suitable donor. If you are offered a pancreas, your transplant team will let you know any risks from the donated organ.

Find answers to your donation questions


4. Being admitted to the transplant centre

If you and your transplant team decide to accept an offered pancreas, you will be asked to come to the transplant centre. You’ll have tests to check that the surgery can go ahead. Your surgeon will explain how the operation will be performed and discuss the risks and benefits.

The pancreas will be checked to make sure it is suitable for transplantation. If you’re having a simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplant, the kidney will also be checked.

Learn more about going in for a pancreas transplant

5. Having pancreas transplant surgery

A pancreas transplant is a major operation that lasts between 2-4 hours. If you need a simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplant, the surgery will take 4-8 hours or more.

There are many different ways to transplant a pancreas. Your surgeon will explain which would be best for you and their preferred technique.

Learn more about pancreas transplant surgery


6. After a pancreas transplant

You will need to stay in hospital for 1-2 weeks. Most transplanted pancreases usually start working within an hour or so after the surgery.

Your transplant team will monitor your progress and let you know when you can go home. You will need follow-up appointments at the hospital, and extra support can be arranged at home, if needed. You will also need to take daily medicines to prevent rejection.

Learn about living with a pancreas transplant


More information

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