Pancreas transplantation offers hope for people with type 1 diabetes, a disorder that causes the pancreas to stop producing enough insulin.

There is evidence that transplantation can halt the progression of, and in some instances, prevent the onset of certain longterm diabetic complications. Learn more about how Ohio State is leading the way in organ transplantation!

Why choose Ohio State for pancreas transplant?

Expertise: Since our first kidney-pancreas transplant in 1988, we have performed more than 900 kidney-pancreas transplant surgeries. In addition, we have performed more than 170 pancreas transplants alone. We are also among the busiest kidney-pancreas centers in the world and the only adult transplant center in central Ohio.

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.

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.

Pancreas transplant research: We participate in clinical trials of new immunosuppressive drugs and anti-rejection therapies.


Pancreas Transplant Candidates

Pancreas Transplant Candidates

People with type 1 diabetes who do not have kidney disease may be eligible for a pancreas transplant. These candidates are individuals who frequently experience life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes and who have a great deal of difficulty regulating their blood sugars over a long period of time.

People who generally are not candidates include those with metastatic cancer, active infection or severe medical problems.

Patient Process

Pancreas Transplant Process

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

Your primary care physician, a referring physician, 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 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.

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. A referral could be made to Cardiology, Pulmonary, Infectious Disease or other services as warranted.

After your evaluation is complete, we will send follow-up letters to the referring physician and your insurance company.

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 pancreas transplantation on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national waiting list. A letter is sent to your insurance company providing recommendations for transplantation and requesting approval.

Active Wait List Phase

You may receive a donated 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 three to five years for a 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 pancreas.

Transplant Phase

You must be reachable by phone at all times. When a pancreas becomes available for you, you will be notified by the pre-transplant coordinator and admitted to the 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 organ is available. However, using the latest perfusion techniques, we are able to transplant a pancreas within an average of 12 hours of recovery. The surgery will generally last four to six hours.

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

Post Transplant Phase

After your surgery, you will be admitted to the Transplant Unit. Your hospital stay is typically five 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.

A post-transplant coordinator also will call shortly after discharge to answer any remaining questions and to discuss long-term follow-up with the transplant program.

Once you are discharged, you are followed on an outpatient basis with vital signs and laboratory profiles two times a week for the first three months post-transplant. Lab profiles are evaluated by a transplant coordinator and a transplant surgeon.

You will be seen again in the outpatient clinic at six weeks post-transplant, three months post-transplant, six months post-transplant, 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.

Treatment Team

Pancreas Transplant Team

Pancreas Transplant Team

Our Comprehensive Transplant Center treatment team includes:

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 testing that is needed to prepare you for your pancreas transplant.

Transplant Surgeon

This doctor will perform your 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 provides 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

Pancreas Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Pancreas Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Which health insurance are accepted?

The list of accepted insurances for 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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