Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center is among the largest kidney-pancreas transplant programs in the country.

Learn more about how Ohio State is leading the way in organ transplantation!

Why choose Ohio State for kidney-pancreas transplant?

Experience: Our Comprehensive Transplant Center has one of the largest organ transplant programs in the nation. We perform more than 475 kidney, liver, pancreas, combined kidney-pancreas, heart and lung transplants each year. Since our program started in 1967, we have performed more than 10,000 lifesaving transplants including 6,900 kidney transplants and over 900 kidney-pancreas transplants. We are also among the busiest kidney-pancreas centers in the world and the only adult transplant center in central Ohio. Since our first combined kidney-pancreas transplant in 1988, we have performed more than 900 kidney-pancreas transplant surgeries.

Leading-edge treatments: We are one of the few sites in North America approved to process pancreatic islet cells for transplantation that may cure type 1 diabetes.

Kidney-pancreas transplant research: We participate in clinical trials of new immunosuppressive drugs and antirejection therapies.

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Candidates

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Candidates

People whose kidneys have failed because of type 1 diabetes may be best served by combined kidney-pancreas transplantation. Under these circumstances, the diabetic usually receives both a kidney and a pancreas from a single deceased donor. The transplant candidate may obtain a combined kidney-pancreas transplant prior to the need for dialysis.

Candidates for kidney-pancreas transplantation must show that they are able and willing to be involved in their own care. A great deal of the transplant’s success depends on the patient’s ability to take medications as instructed and to follow the recommendations of the transplant surgeons and nurses. 

Kidney-pancreas transplantation is not an option for people with type 2 diabetes because their tissues are not able to use insulin effectively. However, a kidney transplant is an option for people with type 2 diabetes who experience kidney failure. People who also aren't generally candidates include those with metastatic cancer, active infection or severe medical problems.

Patient Process

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Process

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Process

A goal of our Comprehensive Transplant Center is to ensure our transplant patients experience a thorough continuity of services through the entire transplant process, including pre-transplant evaluation, communication throughout the waiting process, acute medical care during and following surgery, intensive outpatient treatment, post-transplant outpatient visits and ongoing telephone follow-up.

Referral Phase

Referring physicians, dialysis centers, insurance case managers and other transplant centers can make a referral for a patient to be evaluated for transplantation appropriateness here. 

Steps in the pre-transplant referral process include:
  1. The referring party is responsible for providing the coordinator with all applicable medical information according to the transplant referral protocol provided at time of referral
  2. You will need to notify your insurance company before making your initial evaluation appointment. Our pre-transplant office and hospital business office will work with you to determine insurance availability and precertification requirements
  3. Pre-transplant coordinators and business office staff then work together to meet insurance company requirements for evaluation and transplant procedure approval

Clinic Evaluation Phase

During an outpatient clinic evaluation visit, our goal is to have all the pre-transplant initial testing, lab work (including tissue typing) and clinical testing, education, social work consultation and surgeon interview completed in one day.

You will take part in a comprehensive education program that details the surgical procedure, medications, recovery and rehabilitation associated with the transplant process.

Every patient being evaluated for kidney-pancreas transplant will have a psychosocial assessment with a social worker to help determine if a transplant candidate has the psychological stability, motivation and personal support to meet the challenges of transplantation. Before the appointment, you will complete a psychosocial survey that will be reviewed during the evaluation.

After the psychosocial evaluation is complete, a report is sent to the transplant team with a recommendation about your suitability for transplant from a psychosocial perspective.

It is preferred that these tests be completed at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, but depending on your geographic location or payer preference, they may be completed closer to your home.

All patients must meet the chemical dependency requirements of the Ohio Solid Organ Transplantation Consortium. The use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is carefully examined. Patients who meet criteria for alcohol or drug dependence must undergo at least three months of rehabilitation and demonstrate three months of abstinence before listing.

The transplant team evaluates the information gathered and determines whether transplantation is appropriate. We will also determine what additional information is needed prior to placing you on the transplant list.

We will send follow-up letters to the referring physician or dialysis center summarizing the pre-transplant clinic visit and asking for any additional information required. A letter and a copy of the pre-transplant patient chart are sent to your insurance company, requesting precertification of the transplant procedure.

You could be transferred, admitted or scheduled for a clinic visit within several days or three to four months. A referral could be made to cardiology, pulmonary, infectious disease or other services as warranted.

Candidacy Phase

If approved for transplant listing, the final step involves approval by the Ohio Solid Organ Transplantation Consortium (OSOTC). When approved by the OSOTC, you are then listed for kidney-pancreas transplantation on the United Network for Organ Sharing national waiting list. A letter is sent to your insurance company providing recommendations for transplantation and requesting approval.

Active Wait List Phase

Wait time for a kidney-pancreas transplant is impacted by whether both organs (kidney and pancreas) are coming from a deceased donor or whether the kidney is coming from a living donor and pancreas from deceased donor.

Deceased donor organs:

You may receive a donated kidney and pancreas from a deceased donor who has previously registered to become an organ donor or the family wishes to donate. Please be prepared to wait as long as two to three years for a kidney and pancreas from a deceased donor. In addition, the donor must have a blood type compatible with yours and be similar in body weight and size to you. Each potential donor also must be screened very carefully for disease, infection or trauma to ensure that you receive a healthy kidney and pancreas.

Living donor organs:

Usually, both the kidney and pancreas come from the same deceased donor. However, it's possible for a healthy person to donate a healthy kidney while alive, and for the pancreas to come from a deceased donor. Living donors do not have to be blood relatives of yours and can be a spouse or friend. Wait times for patients who have living donors are greatly reduced from years to months.

Transplant Phase

You must be reachable by phone at all times. When a kidney and pancreas become available for you, you will be notified by the pre-transplant coordinator and admitted to our transplant unit on the ninth floor of Rhodes Hall. You will have multiple lab tests done to ensure you are ready for transplant. 

You will be given a number of medications, including antibiotics, antifungals and immunosuppression medications. Ideally, surgery is performed as soon as the organs are available. However, using the latest techniques, we are able to perform a kidneys-pancreas transplant within 12-24 hours of recovery. The surgery will generally last five to seven hours.

Following your admission, your referring physician and insurance company are notified of your transplant.

Post Transplant Phase

After your surgery, you may be transferred to the surgical intensive care unit then to the transplant unit. Your hospital stay is generally between seven to 14 days, depending on complications and your condition.

You will be seen daily by the transplant surgeons, midlevel providers and discharge coordinators. You'll receive individualized education from floor nurses and attend education classes on medication and general discharge instructions. The discharge coordinators manage your care process, communicate with insurance case managers and plan for discharge. A social worker will visit you to address any psychosocial issues associated with the transplant.

Once discharged from the hospital, you will have:

  • Lab Tests: You will visit a lab for testing two times a week for the first first three months post-transplant. Your lab results are evaluated by a transplant coordinator and a transplant surgeon.

  • Outpatient Clinic Visits: you will be seen in our outpatient clinic weekly for the first month, then again at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, and one year post-transplant (and at any other time in between if warranted). You will be seen annually thereafter, unless more frequent visits are required. After you are released by your surgeon, you will be seen by the Transplant Medicine Service. Lab frequency is reduced as you progress.

We will communicate with your referring physician at the beginning and end of each hospitalization, as well as with each outpatient clinic visit.

Because of the many interactions of other medications with immunosuppressives, please check with the post-transplant office prior to filling any prescription.

Once your kidney and pancreas function stabilize, you may be eligible to transition your care closer to home. This transition is dependent on your kidney function, pancreas function and overall health at that time. Please discuss this option with your post-transplant coordinator.

Treatment Team

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Team

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Team

Our Comprehensive Transplant Center treatment team includes:

Transplant Nephrologist

This doctor specializes in kidney transplants and will follow you before, during and after your transplant. He will complete a physical exam and discuss what additional testing is needed to prepare you for your transplant. 

Transplant Endocrinologist

This doctor who specializes in pancreas transplants will follow you before, during and after your transplant. He or she will complete a physical exam and discuss with you testing that is needed to prepare you for your pancreas transplant.

Transplant Surgeon

This doctor will perform your kidney-pancreas transplant surgery. He or she will discuss the risks and benefits related to surgery and assist you in understanding what to expect after receiving your transplant.

Infectious Disease Physician

These doctors, who specialize in infectious diseases, will follow you before and after your transplant (if needed) to reduce risk of infection.

Advanced Practice Provider

The advanced practice providers include physician assistants and nurse practitioners who work closely with your physician to ensure continuity of care throughout your stay at the hospital and your transition to outpatient care. He or she orders and monitors diagnostic tests and treatments, responds to urgent needs, diagnoses and treats problems if they arise and provide the educational tools and resources necessary to continue success with your transplant once you are discharged.

Transplant Coordinator

These are nurses who will be your primary contact from the time you are referred for a transplant evaluation throughout your care here. They will help answer any questions you may have and assist you throughout your transplant experience.

Social Worker and Psychologist

These professionals meet with you to evaluate your psychological readiness for transplantation.

Transplant Pharmacist

A transplant pharmacist is a pharmacist who specifically works with patients who have received a transplanted organ. This pharmacist has been trained to understand details about anti-rejection medications, works closely with your transplant physician to help manage your medications and helps answer medication questions you may have.

Pharmacy Patient Coordinator

The pharmacy patient coordinator offers assessment, linkage and referrals for assistance to patients who need certain medications and have high co-pays or no prescription drug coverage.

Contact: 800-626-2538

Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Which health insurance are accepted?

The list of accepted insurances for kidney-pancreas transplant can often change. Please contact your healthcare insurance provider to confirm your coverage for transplant at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center.

What is tissue typing?

Ohio State's Tissue Typing Laboratory ensures that an organ is compatible with its recipient. The process involves matching a person's unique configuration of six human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules with a potential pool of approximately 100 different varieties.

Cross-match testing helps prevent some types of organ rejection. The testing involves mixing cells from the donor's and recipient's serum to determine whether rejection-promoting antibodies will occur. This information helps your physicians plan for the right medication strategy to best control organ rejection.

Transplant support testing includes monitoring new drugs that patients use, testing to determine a patient's overall ability to maintain a recipient's organ and developing new tests to support many of the clinical aspects of transplantation.

Are there any support groups to join?

Organ transplant affects a person’s body, spirit and life in numerous ways. Adjusting to these changes can often be easier with the assistance of others with similar experiences.

Open to all Ohio State’s abdominal transplant recipients AND waitlisted kidney, pancreas and liver patients, Ohio State’s Transplant Support Group offers an emotionally supportive community before and after the transplant journey and is one of many additional, optional resources offered to benefit our transplant patients. 

  • Date: Meetings will be held on the last Thursday of each month
  • Time: 4 – 5 p.m.
  • Location: Lifeline of Ohio – conference room, 770 Kinnear Road, Columbus, OH 43212 (free parking)

For any questions or concerns, please call the transplant social work office at 614-293-6724.

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