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Pancreas transplant can be a cure for diabetes
Aug. 30, 2021
Many advances have been made in diabetes treatments over the past decade. Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease with the potential for significant complications. Despite the advances, many people with diabetes struggle with the disease.
"Diabetes is an abnormality in consuming or metabolizing blood glucose," says Dr. Tambi Jarmi, a Mayo Clinic nephrologist. "So diabetic patients have a hard time adjusting their blood sugar to the level that their cells needed. It could be a result of a deficiency in the production of the insulin that comes from the pancreas or it could be a result of resistance to that insulin."
To restore normal insulin production and improve blood sugar control, a pancreas transplant may be an option.
Most pancreas transplants are performed to treat Type 1 diabetes. A pancreas transplant can potentially cure this condition. But such a transplant is typically reserved for those with serious complications of diabetes because side effects can be significant.
In some cases, a pancreas transplant also can treat Type 2 diabetes. A pancreas transplant is often done in conjunction with a kidney transplant in people whose kidneys have been damaged by diabetes.
"The idea of a pancreas transplant is to actually cure the diabetes," says Dr. Jarmi. "While treatment with a mechanical pump does a great job, it is not a cure. An organic pump, meaning a pancreas transplant, does cure diabetes."
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Jarmi discusses pancreas transplant as a cure for diabetes.