Skip to Main Content
Sign in to myUHN Patient Portal

Toronto Pancreas Transplant Program

Main Page Content

​​​​​​The Toronto Pancreas Transplant Program employs advanced surgical techniques in transplantation, modern immunosuppressant therapies and world class patient-centered care so transplant recipients can enjoy better health and a longer life.

There are three types of transplantation supported by the program:

  • Simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant (SPK) when the pancreas and kidney are transplanted simultaneously from the same deceased donor
  • Pancreas-after-kidney transplant (PAK) when the pancreas transplantation is performed after a previous kidney transplantation
  • Pancreas transplant alone (PTA) for patients with Type 1 Diabetes suffering from severe, hypoglycemic unawareness, but adequate kidney function.

After successful kidney/pancreas transplantation, dialysis and insulin therapy are no longer required.  Transplant recipients generally feel better, spend less time in hospital, enjoy a normal diet and return to a more normal lifestyle.  A pancreas transplant can also help stabilize diabetic complications.

 

Is a kidney/pancreas transplant right for you?
If you have Type I Diabetes and you have kidney failure (or the beginning of kidney failure) or severe hypoglycemia, a transplant could be an appropriate treatment option.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

A kidney transplant is an organ transplant that involves implanting a healthy kidney (one that can filter the blood) into a person with kidney failure.

A pancreas transplant is an organ transplant that involves implanting a whole healthy pancreas (one that can produce insulin) into a person who has Type 1 Diabetes.

There are three main types of transplantation performed by the Toronto Pancreas Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital:

  • Simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant (SPK) when the pancreas and kidney are transplanted simultaneously from the same deceased donor
  • Pancreas-after-kidney transplant (PAK) when the pancreas transplantation is performed after a previous kidney transplantation
  • Pancreas transplant alone (PTA) for patients with Type 1 Diabetes suffering from severe, hypoglycemic unawareness, but adequate kidney function.

If you have Type 1 diabetes and you have kidney failure, or if your doctor thinks that kidney failure is beginning, the double transplant (combined kidney and pancreas) can be considered as a treatment option. Your doctor and our transplant team can determine if a double transplant is needed based on your medical condition, your overall health, and the results of a pre-transplant evaluation. A pre- transplant evaluation includes a complete physical, consultations with a transplant coordinator and surgeon, and a series of tests, including a heart evaluation.

Yes, in some circumstances people with Type 2 diabetes are eligible for pancreas transplantation. You may contact our team to see if you qualify.

Patients with pancreatic cancer are not eligible for pancreas transplant. Other treatment options are available. Talk to your doctor.

A successful kidney and pancreas transplant will give you strength, stamina and energy. After transplantation, you should be able to return to a more normal lifestyle and have more control over your daily living. You can have a normal diet and fluid intake.

If you were dependent on dialysis before the transplant, you'll have more freedom because you won't be bound to your dialysis schedule. The pancreas transplant will keep your blood sugar normal. Further complications of diabetes may be delayed with better blood sugar control.

After the double transplant is performed, at one year, the kidney survival rate is 97% and the pancreas survival rate is 92%.

Since two organs are transplanted, the risk of surgical complications will be discussed at length with your surgeon during your evaluation stage.

There is also a risk of rejection after any type of transplant surgery. Rejection is your body’s way of not accepting the new kidney and pancreas. Since your body recognizes the new organ as foreign objects, it will normally try to get rid of them or “reject” them. However, you are given medicines to prevent rejection. You will need to take these medications for life and have your blood work drawn as scheduled to prevent rejection episodes.

In some circumstances, a pancreas transplant can be performed without a kidney transplant. The pancreas transplant might be performed for patients who have already had a kidney transplant or for patients who do not have kidney failure, but who have complications of Type 1 diabetes.

The rate of pancreas transplant complications are similar to that of a kidney and pancreas transplant and long term success is almost as good. However, improved immunosuppressive medications and better tissue-matching procedures can offer a reasonable success rate. Your doctor and transplant surgeon can determine if the pancreas transplant is needed without the kidney transplant, based on your medical condition.​

Kidneys for transplantation come from two sources: living donors and deceased (nonliving) donors. Living donors are usually immediate family members, friends or spouses. Deceased donor kidneys come from people whose families give permission for organ donation at the time of death. About 50% of all kidney transplants are performed at Toronto General Hospital are deceased donor kidneys.

Combined kidney and pancreas transplants and single pancreas transplants are only performed with deceased donor organs.

All donors are carefully screened to prevent any transmissible diseases or other complications. The donor is also carefully evaluated to make sure there is a suitable match to your tissue and blood type.

After your doctor and transplant surgeon have determined a double transplant is needed, you will be placed on a waiting list to receive a deceased donor and kidney and pancreas. Your name and blood test results will be placed on the provincial list through the Trillium Gift of Life (TGLN).

It is impossible to predict how long a wait there will be before a deceased donor kidney and pancreas becomes available.  The average wait is 36 to 48 months; however, it's possible the wait could be from a few months to many years. Some people might have to wait longer than others for their transplants because their blood and tissue types might be less common, so it takes longer to find a compatible match.

Kidney and pancreas transplantation involves placing a healthy kidney and pancreas into the body where they can perform all of the function that a failing kidney and pancreas cannot.

The new kidney is placed on the lower left side of the abdomen where it is surgically connected to nearby blood vessels. The vein and artery of the new pancreas are attached to your vein and artery.

The kidney and pancreas transplant surgery takes from five to seven hours. Transplant patients generally stay in the hospital about 7 to 10 days.

  • Take the immunosuppressant medications as prescribed by your doctor. If you adhere to the medications prescribed, you lessen the chance your body will reject your new organs.
  • Attend your transplant clinic. You're required to attend regular health clinics and have your blood work drawn as scheduled. Your clinic includes a visit with your doctor and your transplant nurse coordinator to monitor your health for any signs of infection or rejection.
  • Do blood work regularly. Your transplant team will let you know how often. At the beginning, you will need to do blood work at the Hospital. Later on, you can do it at a lab close to home. The frequency of blood tests decreases over time.
  • Communicate. Engage your healthcare providers and caregivers. Ask questions, talk about how you're feeling and describe any changes in your health. Your feedback will help ensure you receive the best possible care.

For more information about kidney/pancreas transplantation, ask your doctor or email Pancreas.Info@uhn.ca