Cincinnati--Physicians successfully performed the region's first
islet transplant on Friday, Nov. 16 at The University Hospital, an
affiliate of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The UC Islet
Transplant Program is one of only five programs to perform a human
islet transplant in the United States this year. This revolutionary new
procedure provides a less invasive alternative to pancreas
transplantation to treat Type I diabetes. The patient, a 42-year-old
woman from Otway, Ohio, was released from the hospital less than 24
hours after receiving her islet transplant.
Islet separation and
perfusion was performed by Horacio Rilo, MD, associate professor of
surgery and pediatrics and director of the Cellular Transplant Program,
and his cellular transplantation team. The islets were injected into
the recipient in an operation performed by Michael Hanaway, MD,
assistant professor of surgery, and E. Steve Woodle, MD, professor of
surgery and director of the Division of Transplantation.
extremely excited about the results of our first islet transplant, and
we look forward to helping many Type I diabetics in this area," Rilo
said. "This new procedure will bring major lifestyle changes for Type I
diabetics who are accustomed to several painful insulin injections and
finger-sticks to check their blood glucose each day. Although patients
who undergo a successful islet cell transplant will need to take daily
anti-rejection drugs, they will experience an enhanced quality of life."
are insulin-producing cell clusters found within the pancreas (about 1
million islets are present in a normal adult pancreas). To perform an
islet transplant, islets are isolated from a donor pancreas, purified,
and then injected into the recipient through a small abdominal vein.
The islets lodge in the liver where they reside and begin producing
life-sustaining insulin. To protect against rejection, transplanted
patients will take a combination of new, potent anti-rejection drugs
for the remainder of their lives. The procedure requires a one-hour
operation, a two-inch abdominal incision, and less than a 24-hour
Resurgent interest in islet transplantation has
been generated by physicians at the University of Edmonton, Canada, who
recently showed high success rates in a recent series of 20 islet
transplant recipients. Details of their efforts were documented in the
July 27, 2000 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Thirteen of the 15 islet transplant patients in this series are now
free from taking daily insulin injections. More recent reports from the
Edmonton group indicate the islets continue to function well two years
Diabetes, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.,
is a disease caused by the loss of the body's ability to control
glucose (sugar) levels. Type I diabetes is caused by the death of
insulin-producing beta cells in the islets of Langerhans located in the
pancreas. Exposure to high glucose levels over several years can lead
to vascular disease, coronary heart disease, kidney disease, damage to
the eyes and nerves, and limb amputation. In the past, treatment for
Type I diabetes has been confined to daily insulin injections or
kidney-pancreas transplants as life-saving methods to restore pancreas
According to Woodle, "Pancreas transplant procedures
are now very successful, but they are major procedures. Islet
transplants require a much smaller operation and less than a 24-hour
"The patient is doing extremely well. She is back
at home and resting comfortably. We are staying in contact with her on
a daily basis to assure that her recovery continues as it should," said
Samirah Brown, RN, BSN, CCTC, pancreas and islet transplant coordinator.
transplantation provides an exciting means for treating many patients
who are not candidates for whole-organ pancreas transplantation," said
Ram Peddi, M.D., associate professor of medicine and medical director
of the Islet Transplantation Program. "This is truly an exciting day
for the University of Cincinnati."
transplantation is another important reason for people in this
community to 'donate life' to others," said Hanaway, medical director
of the organ procurement LifeCenter, and surgical director of the Islet
Transplantation Program. "We are excited about the opportunity to help
provide this innovative new treatment for diabetes."
"We are very
proud to be the first in Ohio to offer this cutting-edge treatment for
a disease that afflicts so many of our citizens," said Jeffrey B.
Matthews, MD, Christian R.Holmes professor of surgery and chairman of
the Department of Surgery. "This innovative treatment developed and
performed by members of the Department of Surgery signals our
commitment to carry new treatment modalities from the bench to the
bedside through a synergistic combination of bioengineering and
surgical techniques. The Cincinnati community can look forward to other
such treatment innovations in the near future."
Hospital is extremely proud of this achievement. The hospital staff,
surgeons and physicians have been critical in the development and
implementation of this innovative and life-altering procedure. We stay
vigilant and committed to improving the quality of life and providing
the best of care for our fellow citizens of Greater Cincinnati," said
Elliot Cohen, senior vice president, The University Hospital.