Pushing the envelope: Living donor pancreas transplantation

David E.R. Sutherland, David Radosevich, Rainer Gruessner, Angelika Gruessner, Raja Kandaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: More than 160 living donor segmental pancreas/islet transplants have been done since the first in 1977, more than three-quarters at one institution. We review this three-decade experience to project future application. Initially, living donor pancreas transplants were done because the results with deceased donors were poor. As the results with deceased donors improved, the incentive to do living donor transplants declined but never disappeared. A living donor simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant in a uremic diabetic can correct diabetes and pre-empt dialysis with one operation, obviating the high mortality rate of waiting for a deceased donor. Solitary pancreas transplant candidates with preformed human leukocyte antigen antibodies but a negative cross match to a living donor volunteer also benefit. Recent findings: The technical failure rate of living donor pancreas transplants was high in the initial cases (>1/3), nearly double that for deceased donors, but has since declined to nearly zero. Living donor segmental pancreatectomy has little surgical morbidity (currently done laparoscopically) with only a small risk for diabetes by strict selection criteria. living donor and deceased donor graft survival rates are equivalent. Islet allografts have been done from three living donors, the last one successfully, showing the potential for further application. Summary: The incentives for living donor transplants are to eliminate long-wait times for a deceased donor organ and to improve outcomes. With both the incentive is high, but either by itself is sufficient. As the number of pancreas transplant candidates increase, so will wait times for a deceased donor organ. For this reason, living donor pancreas/islet transplant volume will likely increase in the years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Organ Transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • islet
  • living donor
  • pancreas
  • transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation


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