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When Should You Get a Pancreas Transplant for Diabetes?

Best Pancreas transplantation in India with highest success rate

 Joe Arcieri was 12 when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His first step to achieve normal health was through a living donor kidney transplant from his beloved sister, Donna.

He underwent a kidney transplant that relieved the typical symptoms of kidney disease, including weight gain, shortness of breath, uncontrolled blood pressure, and change in skin colour. He lost more than 22 kilos and got his energy back.

But the kidney transplant was one part of his journey to good health and a diabetes-free life. He needed a new pancreas to get rid of Type 1 diabetes from his body so that his healthy kidney does not suffer from this disease again.

So, he was evaluated and got listed for a pancreas transplant. Unbelievably, he got a call 48 hours later that the hospital had a pancreas for him and needed to get there as soon as possible. Joe’s pancreas operation was his second transplant success, and he was finally free of the insulin for which he had been a slave for 36 years.

Joe says that he recommends pursuing transplantation, whether it’s kidney, pancreas, or both, based on the opportunity. Hence, it is important to know why one needs to undergo a pancreas transplant, the types of transplants available, and who can get the transplant.  

We will start with parts of the pancreas and its function first, which will help you understand pancreas transplantation in a much better way. So, let’s get started.

Pancreas Transplant Patient Image
Parts of Pancreas

Parts of Pancreas

What are the parts of the Pancreas?

The ear controls hearing and balance. It is made up of three parts – the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear.

The Pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen(belly) and plays an important role in the digestive system (converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells). It is spongy, about six to ten inches long, shaped like a flat pear or a fish extended horizontally across the abdomen. 

There are four main parts of the Pancreas: 

  • Head: Head is the widest part of the pancreas, found on the right side of the abdomen.
  • Neck: It is the thin section of the gland between the head and the body of the pancreas.
  • Body: It is the middle part of the pancreas between the neck and the tail.
  • Tail: It is the thin tip of the pancreas in the left side of the abdomen close to the spleen.

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What does the Pancreas do?

A healthy pancreas produces the right chemicals in the right quantity to digest the foods we eat. 

There are two main functions of the pancreas:

Exocrine (Digestion) Function

The Pancreas consist of exocrine (Exo = outward) cells that produce enzymes that help in digestion. The exocrine cells are also called acinar cells, which produce, and transport enzymes released into ducts and passed to the duodenum (first part of the small intestine), where they help in food digestion.

Endocrine (Blood Sugar) Function

The body utilizes blood sugar for energy. The pancreas is composed of a small island of endocrine (endo=within) cells, and these islands are called Langerhans. These cells release hormones such as insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream, which helps maintain proper blood sugar(glucose) levels.

Functions of Pancreas
what is pancreas transplant

Pancreas transplant

What is a pancreas transplant?

A Pancreas transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor into a person whose pancreas no longer functions properly.

The Pancreas transplant aims to restore normal blood sugar levels in the body. The Pancreas transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor into a person whose pancreas is not functioning properly. It is mainly done for people with diabetes.

If your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, then blood sugar levels can rise to high, resulting in type 1 diabetes. The pancreas transplant has become a common treatment for type 1 diabetes and is sometimes carried out in people who require insulin therapy and have type 2 diabetes.

A pancreas transplant is often combined with a kidney transplant in people whose kidney is damaged due to diabetes.

Types of Pancreas Transplant

Types of Pancreas Transplant

There are mainly three types of pancreas transplant that include:

People with diabetes in their early-stage or no kidney disease can have this transplant. The transplant surgery involves the placement of a healthy pancreas into a recipient whose pancreas is not working properly.

It is carried out in people with diabetes who have or are at risk of kidney failure. The goal of a kidney-pancreas transplant is to give you a healthy kidney and pancreas that are not likely to contribute to diabetes-related kidney damage in the future.

The doctor might recommend people waiting for both donor kidney and donor pancreas for a long time undergo a kidney transplant first from a living or deceased donor once it is available. Once you recover from a kidney transplant, you will receive a pancreas transplant once the donor pancreas is available.

Why is Pancreas Transplant carried out?

A Pancreas transplant can restore the production of natural insulin and improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It is not a standard treatment and involves risks such as infection and organ rejection.

Doctors may consider transplants to people like:

  • Cannot control Type 1 diabetes with standard treatment
  • Poor blood sugar levels
  • Severe kidney damage due to diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes associated with low insulin production and resistance
Why pancreas transplant

Why choose India for Pancreas Transplants?

India has emerged as a top medical travel destination. India has specialist doctors and offers the best medical facilities, which is why people choose India for their treatments.

The cost for treatments in India is also economical as compared to U. S., European nations, and even other Asian countries. India is well connected with the rest of the world and thus easier to travel to the country.

Procedure for pancreas transplant

Procedure for a Pancreas Transplant

Procedure for a Pancreas Transplant in India

Talk to your doctor about whether a kidney transplant would be the right choice for you or not. The doctor will refer you to the transplant centre who will make plans for your medical evaluation. This evaluation will determine whether the transplant is a good choice for you.

In the kidney-pancreas transplant operation, the pancreas is placed on the right side of your lower abdomen, and the kidney is placed on the left side of the lower abdomen without removing your kidneys and pancreas.

The surgical procedure takes four to six hours, and your stay at the hospital might take from two weeks to four weeks. After the surgery, the pancreas produces insulin within hours, and the blood sugar is controlled. Insulin shots are not required after this unless the body rejects the new pancreas.

How much does a pancreas transplant cost in India?

Pancreas transplant in India is cost-effective as compared to other countries. The cost of a Pancreas Alone Transplant (PAT) is between USD 18,000 – USD 30,000. The cost of Simultaneous Pancreas Kidney Transplant (SPK), Pancreas After Kidney Transplant (PAK) ranges from USD 30,000 – USD 70,000.

Cost of pancreas transplant
prostate cancer survival rate

The Success Rate of Pancreas Transplant

  • The success rate of Simultaneous Pancreas Kidney Transplant (SPK) is about 73%
  • The success rate of the Pancreas After Kidney transplant (PAK) is about 65%
  • The success rate of Pancreas Only transplants is about 53%

The best results are seen with a matched kidney from a living donor; usually, a sibling, and the next best results are a kidney from a less closely matched living donor such as a spouse or friend.

The success rates are also good when transplants are done from deceased donors. The best results are usually seen when both pancreas and kidneys are from the same donor, reducing the risk of rejection.


After a successful pancreas transplant, a new pancreas will produce insulin that your body needs. You will no longer need insulin therapy to treat type 1 diabetes. But even with the best possible match, your immune system will try to reject the new pancreas.

To avoid rejection, you will need anti-rejection medications to suppress your immune system, and you will have to take these drugs for the rest of your life.

Your doctor may also prescribe antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal medications since your body will become more vulnerable to medications that suppress your immune system.

Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:

Can diabetes be cured with a Pancreas Transplant?

A Pancreas transplant offers a potential cure typically for those with serious complications of diabetes and, in some cases, may also treat type 2 diabetes.

Can the Pancreas heal itself?

In most cases, the pancreas can heal itself during acute pancreatitis and restore the normal pancreatic function of digestion and sugar control.

What are the signs of a bad pancreas?

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Tenderness when touching the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Speedy pulse

What foods produce insulin in the pancreas?

  • Avocados
  • Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, cashews
  • Oils – Olive oil, flaxseed oil
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds
  • Fish – herring, salmon, and sardines

What drinks lower blood sugar?

Green tea and green tea extract may help to lower blood sugar levels. It may also help in preventing type 2 diabetes and obesity.

What is the healthiest breakfast for a person with diabetes?

  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Multigrain avocado toast
  • Low carb smoothies
  • Cottage cheese, fruit, and nut bowl

How to increase insulin production in pancreas?

  •         Get more sleep
  •         Reduce stress
  •         Exercise more
  •         Eat more vegetables and fruits
  •         Cut down on carbs

·         Reduce consumption of added sugars

How to improve pancreas health?

Eat food rich in protein, contains antioxidants and is low in animal fats. You can try lean meats, beans, lentils, dairy alternatives like flax milk and almond milk, and clear soups. These can be easily digested by your pancreas.


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