The pros and cons of a pancreas transplant

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Are you nervous at the thought of undergoing a pancreas transplant? Fret not; here are several advantages of receiving a new pancreas:

i The benefit of needing no insulin injection and no dialysis after a combined kidney and pancreas transplant is enormous. Your quality of life improves tremendously.

i With a combination kidney and pancreas transplant, your new kidney doesn't suffer the same deterioration as the original, damaged kidney. Without the healthy pancreas, the new kidney would deteriorate.

il If you suffer from hypoglycemic unawareness (see Chapter 4) with severe resultant low blood glucose, you resume hypoglycemic awareness after a transplant of the pancreas.

i Glucose levels that are very brittle smooth out after pancreas transplantation.

i Early complications like eye disease, nerve disease, and heart disease reverse after pancreas transplantation.

Keep in mind, though, that a pancreas transplant isn't without risks. The newer drugs used to suppress rejection of a pancreas don't cause osteoporosis, as corticosteroids (the traditional antirejection drugs) do, but they have their own problems. In addition, the surgery on the pancreas is technically more difficult than kidney surgery, which leads to other possible complications. Some of the specific risks of pancreas transplant include:

1 Surgical complications that require removal of the graft in 10 percent of transplants

1 Bleeding and infection in as many as 25 percent of transplants

1 Damage to the kidney from the antirejection drugs (if you're receiving a combined kidney and pancreas transplant)

1 High blood pressure due to the drugs

1 High blood glucose due to the drugs

1 Diarrhea and gastrointestinal bleeding due to the drugs

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