Patients now living insulin free and off dialysis
Due to refined surgical techniques and advances in anti-rejection therapy, transplant surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh’s Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute (STI) are able to successfully perform a higher volume of kidney-pancreas transplants – more than 22 kidney-pancreas transplants in the past three months – which yields a shorter wait time on the transplant list, a better graft survival and quicker recovery. "People need to be more aware of our services, in particular, diabetic patients with end-stage renal disease," said Ngoc Thai, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery and director of pancreas transplantation at STI.
Another advance in the field of kidney-pancreas transplantation is the use of the drug campath – a powerful immunosuppressant that depletes T and B cells – the cells that may cause rejection of the new organ. Only one dose is given before the transplant surgery. Because of its potency, a single dose of campath can be given to treat active rejection as well. There is little risk above and beyond the usual side-effects of immunosuppression. The advantage is that patients only need to take the anti-rejection medication FK after surgery, as opposed to a combination of FK, MMF and steroids. Currently, researchers at STI are one of a few transplant centers in the United States participating in a clinical trial to study the advantages of campath therapy for kidney-pancreas transplant recipients.
Maureen McGaffin | EurekAlert!
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