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From Wilmington, Delaware, USA:

My 55 year old brother has brittle diabetes, and even with his newly prescribed pump, he seems to be getting worse. I saw something on television about some kind of transplant, possibly pancreas cells, that had give the patient a chance at a more normal life. My brother lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota but we could go most anywhere we could get some help. Can you tell me where this was done? Who might I contact for more information on this procedure?


Either transplantation of the whole pancreas, or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (termed islet cell transplantation), is an option for individuals who need a kidney transplant because of diabetes and are already going to be placed on immunosuppressive drugs. Transplant is also a possibility for individuals with severe life-threatening hypoglycemia.

The kicker is that you have to have a bad enough situation to justify the risk of the drugs that prevent your immune system from damaging the transplanted tissue. It is not a procedure for everyone. Your brother lives in Minneapolis where they have a large transplant center at the University of Minnesota. I am sure they would be able to give him more information.


[Editor's comment: If your brother is not currently followed by a diabetes team with expertise in the use of insulin pumps, I suggest he find one to help. There should be no reason for him not to be able to achieve at least reasonable blood glucose control with a pump, provided it is properly used.

The term brittle diabetes is no longer used. With current methods of blood glucose monitoring and insulin regimens (especially a pump), it is possible to achieve control in all but very few people. The key is to match the treatment program to the individual, and for that, a diabetes team is essential. Please be sure your brother sees one, and soon! SS]

[Editor's comment: See Pancreas Transplantation and islet cell transplants for additional information. WWQ]

Original posting 17 Sep 2002
Posted to Transplants


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