Patricia A. Cowan, PhD; Mona N. Wicks, PhD; Teresa C. Rutland, MSN, FNP; Judith Ammons, MSN, FNP; Donna K. Hathaway, PhD


June 17, 2002


Whole-organ pancreas transplantation was pioneered more than 30 years ago in an effort to improve the outcomes of patients with concomitant diabetes mellitus (DM) and uremia.[1] Preceded by refinement of surgical techniques and organ preservation in large animals, clinical pancreas transplantation began at the University of Minnesota in 1966. Early pancreas transplant recipients were typically patients who, because of severe secondary complications of DM, no longer benefited from conventional medical therapy.[2] High patient acuity, technical problems, and a high incidence of acute rejection accounted for poor patient outcomes in the early years of pancreas transplantation.

Until recently, despite substantial improvements in quality of life reported by many pancreas transplant recipients, the perception persisted that pancreas transplantation was an experimental procedure.[3] However, significant advances have been made and pancreas transplantation is the only treatment for type 1 DM that can induce insulin-independent normoglycemia. Currently, pancreas transplantation is considered a therapeutic option for patients with all stages of DM, even those with advanced extrapancreatic complications.