Pancreas and Kidney Transplant

Types of Transplant Offered | Who is a Candidate? | What to Expect | Contact Us

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is among the top 10 transplant programs in the nation in number of pancreas and kidney transplant procedures performed. Combined with our leading kidney transplant expertise, patients can trust us to perform this operation that cures both kidney failure and diabetes.

Types of Pancreas and Kidney Transplant Offered at UMMC

If you have insulin-dependent diabetes that leads to the need for a pancreas transplant, your condition may also lead to kidney failure. You may require a kidney transplant as well as a pancreas transplant to restore you to better health.

In addition to pancreas-only transplantation, we offer 2 procedures where our expert surgeons transplant the pancreas and kidney at the same time:

  • Simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplantation: In this procedure, we transplant the kidney and pancreas from a single deceased organ donor. Patients with insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1) and certain patients who have components of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (Type 2) may be candidates for this procedure. 
  • Simultaneous pancreas and living donor kidney (SPLK) Transplantation: For patients who have a suitable living donor for kidney transplantation, we can time the surgery in conjunction with the availability of a pancreas from a deceased donor. The advantage to this procedure is that patients have superior outcomes, thanks to the living donor kidney transplant. UMMC pioneered SPLK. We have performed more SPLK procedures than any other medical center. Learn about our other innovative kidney treatments.

Who Is a Candidate for Simultaneous Pancreas and Kidney Transplant?

You may be a candidate for simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK) transplant if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • Have insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes). Rarely, we will consider selected recipients who have type 2 diabetes.
  • Have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure – when kidneys function at less than 10 to 15 percent of their capacity 
  • Require dialysis or expect to require dialysis in the next 12 months
  • Have at least 1 complication, including:
    • Diabetic retinopathy: Eye disease caused by diabetes. Learn more about diabetic retinopathy.
    • Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage from diabetes. Learn more about diabetic neuropathy.
    • Diabetic gastroparesis: Delayed emptying of the stomach caused by blood sugar problems. Learn more about diabetic gastroparesis.
    • Accelerated atherosclerosis: Hardening of the arteries. Learn more about atherosclerosis.
  • Have extremely brittle diabetes. In rare cases, these patients may not have secondary complications. However, these individuals have frequent hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes. These episodes are dangerous because they can damage a person’s employability as well as the safety of the patient or children in their care. Usually, these patients also have frequent emergency room visits for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition where your body burns fat instead of sugar.

We counsel patients who are appropriate candidates for SPK transplantation to consider possible living donor kidney transplantation because:

  • There is an extreme shortage of cadaver (deceased) kidneys in the United States.
  • Living donor kidneys have a survival advantage over cadaver kidneys. 

These patients also may consider living donor kidney transplant alone followed by a pancreas after kidney (PAK) procedure. Learn more about pancreas transplant.

Before the transplant, we will conduct a thorough evaluation as well. Learn more about entering the transplant program.

Simultaneous Pancreas and Kidney Transplant Surgery: What to Expect

Patients who have a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant at UMMC have very good results. After one year, the transplanted kidney is working in 95 percent of patients, and the pancreas is working in more than 85 percent of patients. 

The surgical procedures for simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant surgery are similar to the separate procedures, except that they are performed in just one operation that lasts 4 to 8 hours. 

After the surgery:

  • In most cases, your kidney and pancreas will begin to function immediately. Soon after transplantation, you will no longer require insulin or dialysis. 
  • The average hospital stay for patients who receive a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant is approximately 5-10 days. 
  • The kidney donor is able to go home after 1-2 days. Learn more about living donor kidney transplant.

Learn more about what to expect:

Contact Us

To speak with someone about our pancreas and kidney transplant services, please call 1-410-328-5408 or 1-800-492-5538.

For referring physicians: To refer a patient or get more information, please call 1-800-373-4111. A physician service representative from Consultation and Referral Services will direct your call to the appropriate physician or department.

For more details, please visit our section for referring physicians.