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Pancreas transplants offer hope to patients with type 1 diabetes. Currently, 1,045 Americans are on the waiting list for a pancreas transplant.
About the Pancreas
The pancreas is the organ responsible for the production of insulin, a crucial hormone that helps our bodies turn sugar into fuel. Additionally, the pancreas also creates enzymes that break down fat, protein and carbohydrates during digestion.
An individual without a properly functioning pancreas does not have the necessary amount of insulin being produced in their bodies, and thus, there is a surplus sugar in their blood. This can cause major problems in the body, such as kidney failure, heart disease, strokes or even death. The most common cause of pancreas disease is Type I Diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes.
Experimental transplant of islet cells have started to be performed as a way to treat diabetes. In these instances, the insulin-producing islet cells are isolated from the donor's pancreas and injected into the patient's liver, where they begin to produce insulin for the recipient.
It is common for a patient to be waiting for both a pancreas and a kidney transplant simultaneously, as the issues related to a malfunctioning pancreas also result in the need for a new kidney.
- The average amount of time that someone waits for a pancreas transplant is two years.
- In 2015, there were 207 pancreas transplants performed in the U.S.
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The Interactive Body
Explore the Interactive Body to learn about organs and tissues needed for others awaiting transplants.