Updates

BJC and Saint Luke’s Officially Combine as BJC Health System

Types of Pancreas Transplants

We offer several different pancreas transplant options to help our patients receive the best possible care:

Pancreas-only transplant

A pancreas transplant is a procedure where you are given a healthy pancreas from someone who has just passed away. This is the most common type of pancreas transplant.

We perform nearly 200 pancreas-only transplants a year with a three-year survival rate of more than 95%.

Why choose a pancreas-only transplant?

A pancreas transplant for diabetes can improve your quality of life, removing the need for insulin shots and pumps. A pancreas transplant is beneficial if you have:

  • Type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemia unawareness, which is the inability to tell when you have low blood sugar

  • Brittle or uncontrolled diabetes with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

A new pancreas also reduces long-term health risks associated with diabetes. These risks include:

  • Retinopathy (a disease of your retinas that can cause vision loss)

  • Heart disease

  • Heart attack

  • Nerve damage

What is the average wait time for a pancreas transplant?

The typical wait time for a pancreas transplant is less than one year. The wait times for a pancreas at BJC hospitals are shorter than national averages. 

Our shorter transplant wait times result from our partnership with a local organ procurement organization (OPO), Mid-America Transplant. They are the first OPO in the country to use an in-house operating room to remove donor organs. Their innovative work increases the number of available organs and doctors' likelihood of transplanting them. 

Kidney-pancreas transplant

At our transplant center, we are experienced in multi-organ transplantation. If you have type 1 diabetes and kidney failure, you can receive a new kidney and pancreas during the same surgery. Both organs come from deceased donors.

Why choose a kidney-pancreas transplant? 

A kidney-pancreas transplant allows us to treat kidney failure and type 1 diabetes. With improvements in medications and surgical techniques, patients who receive this type of transplant have a five-year survival rate of about 85%.

A kidney-pancreas transplant also reduces long-term health risks associated with diabetes. These risks include:

  • Retinopathy (a disease of your retinas that can cause vision loss)

  • Heart disease

  • Heart attack

  • Nerve damage

Also, a kidney-pancreas transplant can give you better outcomes than a kidney transplant alone. These improved outcomes are because the new pancreas normalizes your blood sugar, preventing hypoglycemia and reducing potential damage to your kidney because of diabetes.

What is the average wait time for a kidney-pancreas transplant?

Waiting time for a kidney-pancreas transplant is typically less than six months — shorter than waiting for a kidney or pancreas alone. There are factors that could make your wait for a pancreas transplant longer than this. Your transplant specialist speaks with you about what to expect.

Pancreas-after-kidney transplant

During a pancreas-after-kidney transplant, we perform two separate transplant surgeries. We complete the kidney transplant first. Your pancreas transplant happens once you’ve recovered from the first surgery and the donor pancreas is available.

Why choose a pancreas-after-kidney transplant? 

A pancreas transplant can provide long-term relief from diabetes, while a kidney transplant eliminates the need for dialysis. Together, the transplanted organs offer hope for a longer, healthier life.

With a pancreas-after-kidney transplant, you can receive a kidney from a living donor. Patients receiving a simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplant must receive both organs from deceased donors.

Some patients who receive a kidney transplant are at risk of type 1 diabetes damaging their new kidney. If they receive a pancreas transplant, it improves diabetes, removing this risk to the kidney.

What is the average wait time for a pancreas-after-kidney transplant? 

Because we perform the surgeries separately, you may have your kidney transplant done as soon as 12 weeks if you receive your kidney from a living kidney donor.

After your kidney transplant, it could take one year or less for a pancreas from a deceased donor to become available.

Pancreas Transplant Options News & Resources
Sign up for our newsletter and take charge of your whole health.

Stay ahead of the curve with exclusive content from BJC's health care professionals, delivered right to your inbox.