I have a relative, a 9-year-old boy, with diabetes since his early ages. Because of wrong treatment, his pancreas stopped working. He's in a very bad situation and the unique way the improve his condition is a new pancreas.
But we don't have this kind of surgery here in Brazil, nor we have money to pay for it in the States, so I'd like to know (if possible) if there are any institutions that finance this kind of surgery for people that can't afford it.
I'm not very sure what you mean about your relative's pancreas stopping working because of wrong treatment, but in most young patients with diabetes it's only the part of the pancreas that makes insulin that doesn't work properly. The pancreas does lots of other things and continues to do them in patients with diabetes.
You have heard about pancreas transplants but they are still quite rare - only a few hundred have been done anywhere in the world. They are a last resort in diabetes and are usually given when someone is having a lot of problems with their illness and need a kidney transplant too. This is a very big and dangerous operation and it's much safer to carry on treatment with insulin injections.
A lot of work is being done on giving injections of just the insulin producing cells from pancreas but again this is experimental work and definitely not ready for widespread use.
So, provided your relative is getting insulin and seeing his/her doctor to help with blood sugar control there's nothing else needs to be done.
Original posting 21 Apr 96
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