Although it is possible for a living donor to donate a pancreas segment, most pancreas transplants involve a whole organ from a deceased donor. After the donor pancreas is removed, preserved and packed for transport, it must be transplanted into the recipient within twelve to fifteen hours. The pancreas transplant recipient is first given general anesthesia and is placed on a ventilator and an incision is made in the lower abdomen. The diseased pancreas is not removed during the operation. The donor pancreas is inserted in the lower portion of the patient's abdomen and attached to their blood vessels, and intestine or bladder.
The whole organ pancreas surgical procedure takes approximately two to four hours to complete. Because the length of this surgery is different for every patient, families should talk with the surgeon about what to expect.
Postoperative care begins with a team of heath professionals within the hospital. Careful, comprehensive post-surgical monitoring constantly evaluates whether the body is accepting the new organ. In addition, the amount of time you spend in the recovery room, waking up and getting to the point that you're ready to go home, will vary from patient to patient. Because individual experience after recovery is so unique, it is important to discuss with your physician what to expect after surgery.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is committed to providing accurate and reliable information for transplant patients. The content on this page was originally created on August 1, 2003 by UNOS and last modified on October 10, 2003. The following sources were used as references:
National Library of Medicine, retrieved June 1, 2003.
Groshek, Marilyn, BSN, RN, CCTC. Ed. Franki Chabalewski. "Nursing Care of the Pancreas Transplant Recipient." UNOS Donation and Transplantation Nursing Curriculum. 1996
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