Our Pancreas Transplant Program began in 1987 when surgeons performed the first adult pancreas transplant following kidney transplant in Wisconsin. Program surgeons leverage decades of combined experience with the latest research-proven transplant approaches to provide all possible treatment options for patients.

Pancreas transplant predominantly is undertaken to treat patients with Type 1 diabetes. The intent is to cure the condition and make it possible to stop taking insulin. The majority of  pancreas transplants also involve kidney transplant, either before or during the same procedure. For this reason, pancreas transplant physicians work closely with diabetes experts and the End-Stage Kidney Disease and Kidney Transplant Program at Froedtert Hospital.

Get answers to frequently asked questions.

Advanced Pancreas Transplant Care

The Pancreas Transplant Program is certified by Medicare and Medicaid, and participates in the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). We are affiliated with the Wisconsin Donor Network, a federally designated organ procurement agency that supports the transplant community in eastern Wisconsin.

Exceptional Pancreas Transplant Survival Rate

Pancreas transplant survival rates at Froedtert Hospital meet or exceed national benchmarks. For the most current simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant outcomes data, visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Expertise in All Approaches to Pancreas Transplant

Transplant surgeons at Froedtert Hospital are highly experienced in all approaches to pancreas transplant and can provide treatment tailored to each patient’s needs. The most common approach is simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant (SPK). Surgeons also are adept at performing simultaneous transplants of the pancreas with live kidney donation (SPLK), pancreas transplant after kidney transplant (PAK), and pancreas transplant alone (PTA). Our expertise in transplants involving live kidney donation further broadens options for patients and can decrease wait list time.

Physicians Referrals and Appointment Requests

Research-Driven Pancreas Transplant Care

Through their affiliation with an academic medical center, program physicians offer patients the latest, research-proven treatment options. In some patients, for instance, surgeons use a technique that helps drain pancreatic secretions in a way that reduces bladder-related complications.

Another indication of clinical leadership is the availability of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue typing and virtual cross-matching through the program’s affiliation with Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin. HLA tissue typing of pancreas donors and recipients involves a blood test that identifies components called antigens on the surface of body tissues and cells. The test helps determine if donor tissue is compatible for transplant with the recipient, decreasing the chance of organ rejection. Virtual cross-matching also involves a sophisticated blood test that makes transplants easier and safer for patients prone to rejection, potentially increasing the pool of donors and decreasing wait times.

International Patients

We are here to help international patients arrange for their care at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Comprehensive Care, Focused on Patients for Life

All members of the Pancreas Transplant Program care team specialize in caring for transplant patients before, during and after transplant. They help patients and families prepare for each step of the pancreas transplant experience and connect them with the many patient resources the Transplant Center offers. Post-surgery hospital care is provided on a dedicated nursing unit solely for transplant patients.

Following discharge and for years to come, transplant coordinators trained in post-pancreas transplant care monitor patient progress and help them live life to its fullest. These experts recognize, manage and minimize the combined impact that diabetes treatments, immunosuppressant drugs and other medical factors can have on patients.

FAQ and Resources for Patients

  • Following a pancreas transplant, patients no longer require insulin and can eat a normal diet with the expectation of normal blood sugar control. In the long run, this results in improvement or prevention of diabetic complications such as retinopathy (eye disease), neuropathy (nerve involvement) and vascular disease.

  • There are four primary approaches to pancreas transplant, the majority performed to treat people with Type 1 diabetes and end-stage kidney failure. All are performed at the Transplant Center at Froedtert Hospital.

    1. Simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant (SPK), used for the majority of transplants, occurs when a pancreas and kidney from the same deceased donor are transplanted in the same procedure.
    2. Simultaneous deceased donor pancreas and live donor kidney (SPLK), similar to a SPK approach, but uses a kidney from a live donor, potentially improving outcomes.
    3. Pancreas-after-kidney transplant (PAK), when a pancreas transplant is performed after a previous and separate kidney transplant from a deceased or living donor.
    4. Pancreas transplant alone (PTA), an uncommon procedure performed when patients have adequate kidney function but severe Type 1 diabetes or for patients who have lost the pancreas due to an accidental injury.
  • Risks associated with pancreas transplant include blood clots, bleeding, infection, hyperglycemia (excessive sugar in the blood), urinary complications, transplant failure and organ rejection. The incidence rates of these complications are small and are discussed with patients before surgery.

  • Pancreas transplant patients will need to take powerful antirejection medications the rest of their lives to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new organ. These drugs suppress the entire immune system, so it is harder for patients to resist infections and other diseases, such as cancer. Side effects of antirejection medications include bone thinning, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, skin sensitivity, puffiness, weight gain, swollen gums and excessive hair growth. Each patient’s care team will closely monitor his or her health throughout life and provide guidance to minimize or eliminate side effects.