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After Your Pancreas Transplant

Clinic Visits

Although the hospitalization is relatively short following pancreas and pancreas-kidney transplantation, our physicians and staff will continue to monitor our recent transplant recipients very closely in the clinic. Patients enjoy the comfort of home as they recover, yet still receive the medical attention they need at our clinic.

Clinic visits are scheduled weekly or twice weekly during the early period after transplant, and the time between visits will be increased according to the patient's needs. Patients from outside the Greater Houston area should plan to stay in Houston for 2-3 weeks after transplant to ensure that this close follow-up is possible.

Life after Pancreas-Kidney Transplantation

The goal of pancreas or pancreas-kidney transplantation is to return patients to a full, satisfying quality of life since they are off insulin and no longer have strict dietary and travel restrictions. Many patients go back to school, work and activities they enjoyed prior to having organ failure.

Diet and Exercise

Patients can enjoy drinking as much water as they want and not worry about potassium and phosphorous in their food. Additionally, if the patient's blood sugars are normal post transplant, they can now eat carbohydrates. They are able to exercise and participate in sports, though contact sports are not recommended because the transplant could get injured.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Women and men are able to have children, but it is recommended that women inform the Transplant Center months prior to trying to conceive that they want to have a baby. The Transplant Center will inform the woman if she is healthy enough to carry the baby safely. Some of the immunosuppressive medications will have to be adjusted because they could hurt the baby. 

Weight Gain after Transplant

Many people find that they easily gain weight after transplant. This is partially because of the immunosuppression drug regimen and also because patients feel better and therefore, have a better appetite. Additionally, food also tastes better for patients because their blood is being cleaned far better than it ever was on dialysis and their senses function more appropriately.

Since it is very easy to gain weight after transplant, the Transplant Center has a dietician that councils the patients on proper diet and exercise and encourages a healthy active lifestyle that involves no tobacco, illegal drug, or excessive alcohol use. This should help extend the life of the pancreas, kidney and the patient.

Doctor's Visits

After 6 months to 1 year after transplant, the patient will be referred back to see his/her original nephrologist and/or endocrinologist. This is done so that the patient can always have an expert physician following them for their transplant near their home or work. The patient typically sees his/her nephrologist or endocrinologist 2-4 times a year.

The nephrologist or endocrinologist will address problems with hypertension, diabetes, and worsening pancreas-kidney function if the transplant is failing. The Transplant Center will continue to see the patient annually and get labs every 3-4 months to monitor the patient. The Transplant Center communicates with the patient's nephrologist openly to provide optimal joint care for the transplant patient.

Support Group

Transplantation can sometimes seem overwhelming for patients. The Transplant Center offers a transplant support group that is run by our transplant social workers. The support group meets monthly and encompasses patients who are both waiting for a transplant and those who have already received a transplant.

Every other month, a guest speaker is invited to talk about a topic of interest to the group. In between, the support group functions in a more traditional way where patients share their experiences, provide insightful help and recommendations, ask questions, and form relationships with other patients going through similar issues. Adult family members, friends, and caregivers are welcome and encouraged to come with the patient.