(St. Louis) Barnes-Jewish Hospital has increased the volume of combined kidney-pancreas transplants performed by 80 percent in 2009.
The outcomes for those transplants have been overwhelmingly positive – offering type 1 diabetics with kidney failure a better chance at long-term survival, according to Washington University transplant surgeon Jason Wellen, MD, who directs the Barnes-Jewish kidney-pancreas transplant program.
“If someone is a type1 diabetic with kidney failure or is close to developing kidney failure,” says Dr. Wellen, “there’s no question that their long-term survival is best if these patients receive a combined kidney-pancreas transplant.”
Kidney failure is one of the most serious complications of type 1 diabetes. Statistics show that people with type 1 diabetes and kidney failure have only a 30 – 40 percent five-year survival rate, says Dr. Wellen.
But with a kidney-pancreas transplant, the five-year survival rate improves to 85 percent.
After transplant, patients should no longer need insulin injections as their new pancreatic graft will supply all of the insulin that they need, although they will need to stay on a daily regimen of immunosuppressants. Many studies have shown that patients may experience improvements in other diabetes-related complications, such as neuropathy and vision problems.
The upswing in the volume of kidney-pancreas transplants came with the addition of Dr. Wellen, who has a background in kidney-pancreas transplant, to the Washington University faculty as well as an increase in referrals due to the improved results with this operation witnessed over the past several years.
Washington University surgeons first performed kidney transplants at the former Barnes Hospital in 1963.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the premier transplant centers in the country,” says Dr. Wellen. “Our kidney and pancreas program have excellent results due to the multidisciplinary team approach that we take to manage each and every patient. Our kidney program is one of the largest in the nation having performed 193 kidney transplants in 2009. But more importantly, our graft survivals remain one of the best in the nation.”