Pancreas Transplant Process
Once a patients are identified as a potential pancreas or combined kidney and pancreas transplant candidate, they will have an evaluation performed at the UW Hospital and Clinics. They will meet with a transplant surgeon who will gather information regarding their previous medical history. If the surgeon determines them to be a possible candidate for transplantation, more tests and labs will be ordered.
Patients also meets with a financial consultant, a transplant coordinator, a social worker, and a dietitian who will answer their questions and provide them information. Once all the test results and lab results are reviewed, the surgeon makes a final decision about accepting patients for a transplant.
If it is determined that the patient is a transplant candidate and s/he wishes to proceed, s/he is placed on the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics waiting list and the national list maintained by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS is a nonprofit organization that matches organs to patients based on blood type and patient wait time. This waiting period can last for days or years, based on a patient's individual circumstance. While waiting, the patient will need to send a tube of blood to the UW tissue typing lab every month and will periodically need to get updated medical testing.
The call for transplant can come any time of day or night and the patient will need to arrive at the hospital within two to six hours. The surgery typically takes four to eight hours and the patient will be in the hospital from seven to 10 days. While recovering in the hospital, the patient receives education about new medications, self-care and follow-up. Once discharged, the patient will be able to return home. However, if a patient lives more than eight hours away, s/he will be required to stay in the Madison area for one to two weeks until the transplant team feels it is safe for them to return home.
Transplantation is a lifelong commitment to follow-up care at the UW Hospital. The first year is intense and will require very frequent lab testing and clinic visits at UW Hospital and Clinics. The frequency of clinic visits depends on the patient's medical and surgical status after the transplant. After the first year, frequency of clinic and laboratory visits decreases significantly, but will remain a lifetime commitment. The transplant team provides lifelong assessment and support with the hope that, after transplant, a patient can return to a normal, active and healthy life.