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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the side effects of the medication you take after the transplant?
That is a difficult question to answer for 2 major reasons:
#1 Patients take different medications for their transplant. Some different medications taken are Cyclosporine, Imuran, Medrol, Prograf, Myfortic, Cellcept, Rapamune & many other types.
#2 There are no 2 people that have the same side effects. Side-effects vary from person-to-person.
As for me, I had strong side-effects at the beginning, but as the dosage strength decreased, the side-effects lessened. After the first 2 years, I really did not have any side-effects at all. Several years later, you can experience fragile bones from the steroids.
Some side-effects can be hair growth, hair loss, weight gain, diarrhea, nausea, blurred vision, and others.

Did you get both organs from the same donor?
Yes. This is primarily the way it is done since the 2 organs have to almost be a perfect match. Some transplant centers do take the organs from different donors.  Some centers will use a kidney from a family donor & then wait for a cadaver pancreas which is just as successful.

What kind of numbers did they quote you as far as how long you can expect this kidney and pancreas to last?
That's another tough question to answer since this can vary enormously from person-to-person depending on the quality of the organs & the health of the recipient. I really never received any kind of idea how long they can last. I know if I take care of myself they can last as long as if they were my own. However, you just never know as my life has proven that.

Have you had any complications?
One complication I had was 12 days after my transplant I had a minor rejection, which is normal. There are many complications a person can have after the transplant including rejections of the organs & infections since the medication you are taking lowers your immune system.

In March, 2001 I had a mild rejection of my pancreas but that was controlled with steroids and unfortunately in 2004 my kidney rejected. I also know people who have had their transplanted  kidneys and pancreas' for over 20 years.

Did you have insurance, and did it pay for most of the cost?
Yes, I was lucky. I had private insurance through my wife's employer. However, Medicare does cover the kidney & pancreas. 

Do you have any suggestions for us just getting started?
The first thing you need to do is find a Transplant Center near you that performs the double transplant. (see my web page titled "List of Hospitals") You do want to check how many they have performed & their success rate. If you have private insurance, check to see if they use a particular Transplant Center.
Check with your doctors, particularly your diabetic doctor (endocrinologist) & your kidney doctor (nephrologist). They will get you started with the necessary testing. You cannot get on a transplant list until you go through the "pre-testing" phase.
Get started early!!!!!! Try and get started before you get very sick!!!!!

What can you tell me about just a pancreas transplants?
They are being done successfully across the country, but the islet cells are becoming more increasingly used. Check with you diabetic doctor about this.

Where are they being performed?
This information can be found on my Home Page on my web site at List of Hospitals. Scroll down & click on the UNOS link on my Home Page.
Some places that are performing quite a lot of Pancreas (alone) transplants are:
Univ. of Maryland Hospital (Baltimore, MD)
Univ. of Minnesota Hospital (Minneapolis, MN)
Univ. of TN Medical Center (Memphis, TN)
Univ. Hospital (Seattle, WA)
Univ. of Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha, NE)
Yale New Haven Hospital (New Haven, CT)
Univ. of Miami (Miami, FL)

And more and more every year!!

For a more detailed list click here ---->

What is the cost of the kidney/pancreas transplant?
It varies with Transplant Centers, but it averages around $150,000 to $200,000 depending on length of hospital stay, complications, etc.

How long did you have to wait to get the transplant?
I waited only 15 days. They say the waiting time for this transplant averages between 3 months to a year, but I have seen most people called within 3 months

Since the transplant do you have any food or fluid restrictions?
I have none, but again that changes from person-to person depending on their particular health before & after the transplant

What did they do with your dialysis access after the transplant?
It depends on what type you have. I have a fistula used for hemo-dialysis which stayed intact. People on Peritoneal Dialysis have the catheter removed during surgery in most cases.

We want to know about your life after the transplant & how you are feeling now?