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Evaluation of whole-organ pancreas transplantation in the therapy of IDDM has been difficult because of generally poor graft survival and significant complications in past experience. We report a technically successful simultaneous pancreas/kidney transplant program with patient and graft survival of 85% over 3 years of follow-up (mean 21 months) in 33 subjects with IDDM. Glucose metabolism was normalized without need for exogenous insulin immediately posttransplant in all but one recipient and remained normal in 85% of recipients. The outcome in pancreas/kidney recipients was compared with that in 18 insulin-dependent diabetic recipients of kidney transplant only performed in the same period. Quality of life was assessed with one general and one diabetes-specific questionnaire. General quality of life issues improved significantly in both pancreas/kidney and kidney recipients, but diabetes specific quality of life improved only in the pancreas/ kidney recipients. Pancreas/kidney recipients required twice as long a period of hospitalization for the transplant and two times as many readmissions for a variety of complications. Only a minority of hospital admissions was strictly attributable to the pancreas graft. Of the five deaths in the pancreas/kidney recipients, two were attributable to the pancreas transplant.

Pancreas transplantation in IDDM can now be accomplished with a high degree of success, resulting in normalized glucose metabolism and with overall mortality similar to kidney transplantation alone. Successful pancreas transplantation improves quality of life with respect to diabetes but this benefit is accomplished at a cost of increased hospital admissions and complications related to the transplanted pancreas. The effects of pancreas transplantation on the long-term complications of insulin-dependent diabetes remain unknown.

(C) Williams & Wilkins 1991. All Rights Reserved.