Risks from the donated pancreas

Find out what factors can affect the health of a donated pancreas

Key points

  • All donated organs carry some risk, though in general this is much lower than the risk of staying on the waiting list
  • Some pancreases are likely to work for longer than others
  • It is possible for diseases to be passed to you through the donated pancreas
  • Many donor-related factors can affect how well the transplant works

All donated organs carry some risk


Generally, the risks from a donated organ are much lower than the risk of staying on the waiting list. But the risk changes from donor to donor as some are healthier than others. Some pancreases are likely to work for longer than others. This might be because of health problems that the donor had, or problems that arise during or after surgery. 

This means that you and your transplant team may need to make a difficult decision about whether or not a particular organ is right for you.

Factors that can affect the health of a donated pancreas

In general, pancreases from older donors do not tend to work for as long as organs from younger donors.

Simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplants

Most pancreas transplants are simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplants.

Patients waiting for an SPK transplant should also be aware of the benefits and risks of kidney transplantation.

Learn about the benefits and risks of a kidney transplant

How can the donor’s medical history affect your pancreas transplant?

These are many donor health issues that could affect how well a transplant works.

What happens if your donor is found to have health issues?

Your pancreas transplant team will inform you if your donor has any significant health problems that may increase the risk of diseases being passed on or may reduce the life-span of the pancreas transplant. You will be told how this might affect your health and how well a transplanted pancreas from this donor might work.

What do you need to know about your donor?

More information

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