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Enabling a return to being a kid
We offer the compassionate, customized care your child needs.
If your child is living with severe diabetes or the debilitating pain of chronic pancreatitis, the experts at UW Health provide care that lets your child get back to being a kid.
Our pancreas transplant team uses the most advanced techniques to treat the most complex pancreas-related conditions. First, we carefully assess your child’s health and symptoms. Then, together with you, we choose the right treatment approach.
Why choose UW Health
Our unique corticosteroid-free immunosuppression regimen means the majority of our kids are steroid free.
UW Health experts successfully treat the most complex pediatric pancreas cases. We perform more combined kidney-pancreas transplants than any other program in the nation. We are a Center of Excellence for most insurance networks. In addition, U.S. News & World Report ranks our American Family Children’s Hospital as the No. 1 hospital in Wisconsin.
Caring for kids who need more than one organ transplant is a complex process. Our experienced team works with specialists in kidney and pancreas transplantation. Together we manage the care your child needs when they need a kidney-pancreas transplant.
UW Health is an academic medical center. We are dedicated to research, and our team has a long list of contributions that have changed the lives of transplant patients. Our research on immunosuppression is greatly improving the way kids live with new organs. Experts in pediatrics, endocrinology, gastroenterology and transplantation make up the UW Health team focused on creating better futures and easier experiences for transplant patients.
As your child grows up, our respected transplant program teaches them how to manage their own care.
It’s normal to worry when your child doesn’t feel well after a transplant. However, our entire team of pediatric experts is here for your family, whether your child gets a common infection or experiences complications.
Types of pancreas transplant
As an academic medical center, UW Health provides the most advanced therapies for diabetes, kidney disease and pancreatitis.
We replace the lost and damaged insulin producing cells of the patient’s own pancreas with a new pancreas containing healthy insulin-producing cells. This procedure provides a cure for insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes.
Our experts are highly experienced in caring for children who need more than one organ. These are complex cases. We coordinate your child’s care with our kidney transplant specialists to return your child to health. This procedure of a dual transplant immediately corrects diabetes and kidney failure.
This cutting-edge treatment cures the pain and inflammation of chronic pancreatitis and prevents diabetes. After removing the pancreas, we extract the islet cells, which produce insulin and transplant the islet cells into your child’s liver. This procedure eliminates or reduces the need for insulin injections. By removing the pancreas, it eliminates or reduces the pain related to pancreatitis. We then reconstruct the gastrointestinal tract. Because the transplanted cells come from their own body, your child does not need immunosuppression medicines.
What to expect
The pancreas transplant process for kids
Learn what to expect before and after a pancreas or islet cell transplantation.
Our pancreas transplant team does everything possible to make treatment as easy as we can for you and your child. From your first consultation through follow-up, and as your child grows into adulthood, we are here to help. Our team will listen to your concerns and educate you about every step of the process. We also ensure you know how to help your child stay healthy and get back to the active life of being a kid.
Here’s what you can expect when your child needs a pancreas transplant:
You and our pancreas transplant team meet for a complete evaluation. During this time, your child receives:
A physical exam
Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
Together we’ll talk about available support and any financial needs you may have. We encourage you to ask questions so we can address your concerns.
Our entire transplant team discusses everything related to your child’s health to decide if a pancreas transplant or other procedure is the best option.
When your child is approved for a pancreas transplant, we place them on the list for a donor organ. When a pancreas becomes available, it goes to the child who is the best possible match, as identified by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
UNOS determines when your child will receive a donor organ. It may be days or months. In the meantime, we help you and your family stay prepared for transplant surgery.
During your wait time, we provide ongoing care for your child. Regular doctor appointments help us monitor your child’s health. In addition, our child life specialists help your child understand the surgery and know what to expect when they wake up after surgery.
When your child is matched with a donor pancreas, we call you right away to come to the hospital. Once you arrive, we give your child several pre-transplant tests, such as blood tests and imaging.
Your care team will place an IV in your child to administer medicines to prevent infection and to help your child’s body accept the donor organ.
When the donor pancreas is ready for transplantation, we take your child to the operating room. The transplantation procedure includes:
Giving your child anesthesia, medicine to get them to sleep
Connecting the donor pancreas to your child’s digestive system
After surgery, your child spends five to 10 days recovering in the hospital. You can stay in the room with your child as they recover. Right away, your child should feel less pain and not need insulin injections.
Before you go home, your care team teaches you about:
Precautions to keep your child healthy
Routines to follow once you return home
Tracking your child’s care
What to watch for, such as signs of infection and side effects
Your child’s medicines and how and when to administer them
Your child continues their recovery at home. Together, you will have regular visits with their pediatrician and the transplant team. As follow-up care, you focus on helping your child get the right:
Meet our team
An extensive team approach
We specialize in surgical care for children with diabetes. Your child’s pancreas transplant team includes specialists who are experts in:
We also match you with a nurse coordinator who helps guide your family as you manage your child’s health. During your time with us, you also work with pediatric transplant pharmacists, financial counselors and other transplant experts to get the support and education you and your child need.
Quality care close to home
We provide pediatric pancreas transplant services at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. Our outreach clinics in Madison let you attend pre- and post-transplant appointments closer to where you live. And we use telemedicine and virtual appointments to increase safety and build connections between you and your care team.
Our pediatric experts have cared for children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we help your child recover and get them back to the activities they love.
Real world inspiration
In 2017, Bree became the first pediatric patient to undergo an isolated pancreas transplant at American Family Children’s Hospital. Now, Bree is a psychology major who plans to become an occupational therapist.
Patient and support services
Information for the family
We connect you with information and support to help manage your child’s pancreas transplant experience.
Learn how we’re improving transplantation, read inspiring stories and discover ways you can save more lives by promoting organ donation.