The Pancreas Transplantation Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) successfully completes 15 to 25 pancreas transplantation surgeries each year. These numbers represent a high volume of pancreas transplant surgeries, and our program is steadily growing.
Additionally, we are national leaders in kidney transplantation, with more than 5,600 kidney transplantations completed. Our experience translates to better surgical results for our patients.
To make an appointment, call: 410-328-5408
Our mission is to cure patients of insulin-dependent diabetes, particularly when those patients have developed kidney disease. We are committed to our patients' outcomes while advancing the science of transplantation using the latest innovations. As a research group, our Simultaneous Pancreas and Kidney (SPK) surgeons have published more than 500 articles on transplantation.
At UMMC, we can perform pancreas transplantation on its own or at the same time as living or deceased donor kidney transplantation.
- Simultaneous pancreas AND kidney transplantation (SPK): For diabetic patients who also have kidney failure. SPK refers to the transplantation of a pancreas and kidney at the same time (pancreas and kidney can be donated from the same deceased donor or kidney can be donated from a living donor).
- Pancreas transplantation alone (PTA): Transplantation of the pancreas only in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes.
- Pancreas after kidney (PAK): Pancreas transplantation performed after the patient recovers from successful living or deceased donor kidney transplantation.
- Pancreas re-transplantation: Patients with a prior successful pancreas transplant that may have failed over years or decades may decide to pursue re-transplantation. Our surgeons have expertise in re-transplantation, which requires more complicated technical approaches.
Pancreas transplantation can offer a long-term cure for diabetes. Patients with insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1, or juvenile diabetes) may be candidates for pancreas transplantation as their diabetes complications get worse, even with good medical management.
In some cases, you may have received a prior kidney transplant, usually from a living donor.
We will ask you to provide evidence from your medical records that your symptoms are getting worse. You can get these records from your endocrinologist.
Complications may include:
- Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage from diabetes.
- Retinopathy: Eye disease caused by diabetes.
- Nephropathy: Kidney damage caused by diabetes.
- Gastroparesis: Delayed emptying of the stomach caused by blood sugar problems.
- Autonomic neuropathy: Damage to the nerves that manage bodily functions.
- Extremely brittle diabetes: Diabetes that is very hard to control, with frequent, large blood sugar swings
Before the transplant, we will conduct a thorough evaluation, as well. Learn more about entering the transplant program.
Not every transplant center has the expertise to offer pancreatic transplantation for patients who have diabetes. At UMMC, our skilled team can transplant the pancreas, kidney or both to help you get back to the things in life that matter to you.
The Pancreas Transplant Surgery Procedure
You will need to be prepared to come to the hospital right away if we call to let you know that we have found a donor pancreas for you.
The actual pancreas transplant surgery takes anywhere from 2 to 8 hours and follows these steps:
- When an organ becomes available, your nurse coordinator will immediately call you to check in to the hospital.
- We will do some final tests to make sure you are ready. These might include a physical exam, blood work, X-rays, an EKG or other tests to make sure you do not have an infection or other issue that could cause problems with the transplant.
- In the operating room, we gently put you to sleep and prepare for surgery.
- The surgeons make an incision in the lower part of your abdomen. Then they place the donor pancreas. We do not remove your failing pancreas.
- After the surgeons close the incision, you move to recovery, where we carefully monitor you as you wake up.
After Pancreas Transplant Surgery
After your transplant surgery, you and your caregivers need to learn to protect your new pancreas, recognize signs of rejection and live a healthy lifestyle to support your new organ.
Here is what you can expect to happen after surgery:
- Most pancreas transplant recipients go home between 4 and 14 days after surgery.
- We will see you weekly or biweekly for the first 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. At these visits, we will do outpatient testing, including blood work, to check for possible infection, organ rejection or recurrence of viral hepatitis.
- We will gradually transition you to less frequent appointments. One year after your transplant, we will see you 1 to 2 times per year.
- We will refer you back to your home doctor for routine health care, and coordinate with that doctor as needed
- Your post-transplant coordinator is always available to answer transplant-related questions.
We partner with community hospitals to bring specialized care to patients throughout the region. We do this in addition to seeing patients at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Many patients can receive highly skilled pre-transplantation care at practice locations convenient to them because of these partnerships, rather than traveling to Baltimore for all care.
We offer pre-transplant care at the following locations:
For patients: To speak with someone about our pancreas transplant services, please call 410-328-5408.
For referring physicians: To refer a patient or get more information, please call 1-800-373-4111. A physician service representative from Consultation and Referral Services will direct your call to the appropriate physician or department.
For more details, please visit our section for referring physicians.