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From Mumbai, India:

My friend's six year old daughter has had type1 diabetes for the past four years, and I remember reading in some medical journal about recent advances in the surgery by which insulin generating glands can be transplanted especially in the young children. Will you please throw some light on it and send me details if it's true? My friend has resources to visit such clinic/hospital anywhere in the world and is willing to submit all medical reports for evaluation for a possible cure.


It is true that centers around the world have been able to transplant a solid pancreas to allow for control of blood sugars without insulin. However, this is at the cost of long-term immunosuppression drugs that have many side effects, with many of the side effects being serious. Recently, several centers have shown that transplanting only a portion of the pancreas, the islet cells that contain the insulin-secreting cells, can be transplanted. Again, these patients have to receive immunosuppression.

There are now many centers around the world transplanting islets to patients with type 1 diabetes. I would suggest you contact the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for a list of centers performing islet cell transplants across the world. That organization is sponsoring such research. As it currently stands, this form of transplantation should be considered a research tool.


Additional comments from Dr. Donough O'Brien:

It is not possible to consider any form of islet cell or whole organ transplant for a six year old girl with diabetes because of the present need for lifetime immunosuppression. A great deal of research is being carried out to see if surrogate islet cells can be developed and also to see if there are forms of temporary immunosuppression that can induce lifetime graft tolerance.


Original posting 29 Mar 2002
Posted to Transplants


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