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From Prodigy:

I'm 41 years old and I've had diabetes for for about 26 years now. My question is this: I have seen news articles on the implanting of insulin producing islets. They interviewed a few diabetics who have had this implant and no longer need to take injections. I never saw any follow up news on these people. Is this working or did these folks pass out from high blood sugar? I would still like to get away from the injections and avoid reactions at night when I'm asleep. Thanks you in advance.

There are two different types of pancreas transplant undergoing investigation:

  1. Implantation of the insulin-producing beta cells (which are one of the types of islet cells of the pancreas), and
  2. Implantation of a portion of the pancreas itself (either from a living, related donor, or from an accident victim). The surgery is complicated and expensive, and very few people with diabetes are willing to undertake the procedure when they learn all that's involved.

Both types of transplants have been done very successfully, except for one major snag: the body has a nasty tendency to reject (and destroy) "foreign" tissues, even though the transplant is done to help you. There are ongoing research studies to try to get the rejection problem under control.

In animal models, and in humans, the implanted beta cells do their job just fine (until the rejection process destroys the transplant): the blood sugar comes down to normal levels and stabilizes.

If you're interested in getting a pancreas transplant, talk to your Diabetes Team.

Original posting 11 Mar 96


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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