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What Are The Risks Of A Pancreas Transplant?

A pancreas transplant is a surgery that combines a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor with a pancreas from someone who is not working well. Pancreas is an organ in the lower abdomen whose primary function is insulin as a hormone for the absorption of sugar by cells. If your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, unhealthily high blood sugar can lead to type 1 diabetes.

A Pancreas transplant is one of the chosen options for treating diabetes, which, like other surgeries, has complications and is a significant operation. Some Pancreas Transplant complications may occur soon after the operation, while others may occur months or years later. Some of the main risks associated with a pancreas transplant are described below.

A pancreas transplant can cure diabetes and eliminate the need for insulin injections. However, this method is not standard due to the risks of surgery. This article by Drhealthandbeauty describes the risk of a pancreas transplant.

Table of Contents

Rejection of Pancreas Transplant

One of the most common complications of pancreas transplantation is the rejection of the donor pancreas. This is where the immune system recognizes the transplanted pancreas as foreign and attacks it. 

Rejection of the pancreas usually occurs within days, weeks, or months after the transplant, although it can sometimes occur years later. Immunosuppressive drugs can reduce the risk of transplant rejection.

Rejection of Pancreas Transplant

Pancreas Transplant rejection symptoms are:

  • Pain and swelling in the abdomen
  • rise in temperature
  • getting sick
  • Shivering and pain
  • severe fatigue
  • ankle swelling
  • Shortness of breath

If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Pancreas Transplant rejection is usually treated by increasing the dose of immunosuppressive drugs.

Pancreas Transplant rejection symptoms

Immune system suppressive side effects

The immunosuppressive drugs that you must take to prevent rejection may have significant side effects, including:

  • Increased risk of infection
  • Shaking hands
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased blood pressure
  • hair loss
  • Mood swings
  • Weight Gain
  • stomach ache
  • Rash and redness of the skin
  • weakened bones (osteoporosis)
  • Increased risk of certain types of cancer, especially skin cancer

Talk to your transplant team if you experience any side effects. Do not stop taking medications without consulting your doctor.

Infections after Pancreas Transplant

Immunosuppressive drugs weaken the immune system and increase the chance of infection.

Keep the following things in mind while taking Pancreas Transplant medicine:

  • Report possible symptoms of infection to your doctor right away – these include fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, or headache.
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date – talk to your GP for advice on which additional vaccines are needed, as some carry a risk of illness if you take immunosuppressants.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has an infection—even if it is an infection like chickenpox that you are already immune to.
  • To help prevent infection, you may be given antibiotics, antifungal medications, or antiviral medications for the first few weeks or months after your transplant.
Infections after Pancreas Transplant

blood clotting

Sometimes blood clots form in the blood vessels supplying the new pancreas, preventing it from working correctly. 

The risk of this happening is more significant in the days following the operation so that you will be closely monitored in the hospital for any signs of a blood clot. You will also be given a blood thinner to reduce the chance of clot formation.

If a blood clot forms in the new pancreas, you usually need another surgery to remove it.

After Pancreas Transplant surgery, blood clots can form in other blood vessels, such as the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or the arteries supplying the lungs (pulmonary embolism). However, the use of blood thinners can prevent them. This will help.

blood clotting vessels supplying the new pancreas

inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)

Pancreatitis is swelling and inflammation of the pancreas and is expected in the first few days after surgery. This can happen because the donor’s pancreas is stored on ice in preparation for the transplant.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include the following:

  • Dull pain in the abdomen
  • Feel sick
  • Vomit

Pancreatitis should resolve within a few days. However, sometimes tubes may be placed in your abdomen to drain excess fluid from the donor pancreas, and in a few cases, it may need to be removed.

Pancreas transplants can cause the production and accumulation of insulin again in people with diabetes. However, this is not a standard treatment. The side effects of the drugs used to prevent rejection of the Pancreas Transplant can be severe.


After Pancreas Transplant:

You will stay in the intensive care unit for a few days: doctors and nurses constantly evaluate your condition. The new pancreas starts working immediately, and the old pancreas continues its other functions. 

If you have a new kidney, it will produce urine, just like your own kidney. Most of the time, the new kidney starts working quickly, but sometimes it may take a few weeks to reach the average level of urine production.

You will stay in the hospital for about a week: after the condition stabilizes, you will be transferred to the recovery ward. At this stage, you may feel some pain or burning at the incision site until you fully recover.

You will have frequent examinations to continue your recovery: after leaving the hospital, it is necessary to evaluate your condition for 3 to 4 weeks. So if you live in another city, it is better to take measures to be close to the transplant center at this time.

You will need to take medication for the rest of your life: After a pancreas transplant, you will receive several medications to suppress your immune system, preventing your body from starting an immune response to the new pancreas. 

Other medications may also be used for problems such as high blood pressure or infections.

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Life after pancreas transplant surgery

After the pancreas transplant, anti-rejection drugs are prescribed to prevent the transplant organ’s rejection by the individual’s immune system. 

A person considered for a transplant must be willing to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their life. In addition, he must be willing to undergo lifelong follow-up tests by health care professionals.

Immune system suppressive

Pancreatic transplant drugs

The risks of this procedure are infection and organ rejection. Rejection occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the new organ as a new “foreign” invader. To reduce the chances of rejection, the healthcare team tries to match the donor’s blood and tissue type with the transplant recipient.

After the transplant, doctors prescribe certain drugs, such as azathioprine and cyclosporine, to suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of the new pancreas. However, these drugs increase transplant recipients’ risk of infections such as colds and flu. 

Over time, these drugs may also increase the risk of certain cancers. For example, it is essential to cover the skin and use sunscreen because of the increased risk of skin cancer. If you have a pancreas transplant, you must take certain medications as long as you have the organ in your body. 

You will also need to have tests over the years to ensure your pancreas transplant is still working correctly. It is also essential to keep all of your doctor’s appointments.

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A pancreas transplant is a surgery in which you receive a healthy donor pancreas.

A Pancreas transplant is the most appropriate option for some people with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing the hormone insulin. The usual treatment for type 1 diabetes involves daily insulin injections.

You will receive a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor during a pancreas transplant. If your diabetes has caused kidney failure, your surgeon may also perform a kidney transplant at the same time. Kidney transplants can be done before or even after a pancreas transplant.

In a pancreas transplant, your pancreas stays in your body. The surgeon generally attaches the new pancreas to your intestine so that it may leak digestive juices. After a successful transplant, you will no longer need to take insulin. Instead, the new pancreas will ask for insulin for you. You can also have a regular diet. You will have few or no episodes of low (or very high) blood sugar or insulin shock, and your chances of kidney damage will be reduced.

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Author and specialist

Dr. Majid Zahrabi,


  • Board Certified Neurosurgeon
  • DHA certificate holder
  • Plantation certificate holder, France
  • Certified holder of Discogol, France
  • A pioneer in the non-surgical treatment of disc herniation in the Middle East and CIS countries.
  • Under the training and coaching of Professor Jacques Theron (founder of Discogel Therapy) since 2008
  • More than 400 successful cervical and 1300 lumbar discogel injections
  • Trained and certified several neurosurgeons and spine surgeons in the Middle East and CIS countries for the treatment of Discogel
  • Strong belief in patient-centered care planning and participation
  • Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Imam Khomeini and Amir Mazandarani Hospital, Sari, Iran, with more than 430 surgeries annually, 2000-2011
  • Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Farmaniyeh, Nikan and Yas Sepid Hospital, Tehran, Iran, with more than 400 surgeries annually, 2011-2012
  • Neurosurgeon at Iranian Hospital, Dubai, 2022-2023
  • Since 2015, he has been working as a reference doctor for the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation with Discogel and has trained many doctors of spine-related specialties in various countries of the Middle East and CIS in person/practically and online.



  • Individual training sessions under the direct supervision of Professor Jacques Theron in Discogel treatment, 2008-2020
  • Training sessions under the supervision of Professor Thierry Boye on spinal implants, 2007
  • Participation and presentation in several national and international medical and neuro-spinal conferences
  • Board certificate by Iran Neurosurgery Board, 2001
  • Neurosurgery assistant training course, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran, 1996-2001 (In 2001, he graduated from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences with the first rank in the country.
  • His thesis the titled:The Application of human amniotic membrane in repair of dura matter in dogs.” ( It was happening for the first time in the world. )
  • General medical education, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran, 1984-1993


Published books:

  • CT scan of the brain for doctors
  • Etiology and treatment of painful spine disorders
  • Atlas of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of spine disorders
  • The most common mistakes in the treatment of spinal disorders
  • Reading brain CT scan in simple language (3rd place in the book of the year)
  • Treatment of head and spine injuries

Publications and articles:

  • Bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects of DISCOGEL® (https://www.researchgate.net/)
  • Muscle recovery, reduction of pain, and improvement of movement strategies in patients with lumbar discopathy after injection of Discogel.
  • The article on the initial results of the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation with discogel injection, which won the second-best poster rank at the Pan Arab International Congress of Interventional Radiology (March 14-16, 2015) and was accepted for presentation at the Chicago Pain Congress.
  • The use of human amniotic membrane in dura mater repair in dogs, a study for the first time in the world.



  • Annual Congress of Physiotherapists of Iran, 2019
  • Chicago International Pain Congress, 2019
  • Iran International Pain Management Congress, 2018
  • Annual Congress of Physiotherapists of Iran, 2018
  • Presentation of Discogel as an innovative solution for the treatment of spinal disc herniation in Armenia for orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons, 2017
  • First Live Workshop and Seminar on Minimally Invasive Disc Therapy (DISCON), 2017
  • Presentation of Discogel as an innovative solution for the treatment of spinal disc herniation in Azerbaijan for orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons, 2016
  • Seminar of Iranian official managers, 2016
  • Presentation of Discogel as an innovative solution for the treatment of spinal disc herniation in Tajikistan for orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons, 2016
  • International Neurological Intervention Congress in Iran, 2014
  • Educational seminar for nurses on treatment approaches for head and spine trauma, 2014
  • Educational seminar for general practitioners on treatment approaches for head and spine trauma, 2014
  • Speech at the Retraining Seminar for General Practitioners and Specialists in Dubai (Discon) in 2017
  • Speech in the internal retraining courses of Irani Hospital, Dubai
  • Holding lecture sessions and practical workshops on the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation with discogel injection in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Oman, and Armenia during the years 2015 to 2021.
  • Giving a lecture and holding a practical workshop for neurosurgeons in Vietnam at Ho Chi Minh City University in 2023

Dr. Majid Zohrabi started treating his patients in Dubai in 2022 and continues his activities in private medical centers in the UAE.