Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s healthcare network, have performed the UAE’s first pancreas transplant in an operation that also saw the patient receive a new kidney.
The five-hour combined operation saw a young woman in her twenties with type 1 diabetes receive both a new kidney to treat her diabetes related kidney failure and a new pancreas to eliminate her reliance on insulin injections. Following the operation, her new kidney will be able to filter waste from her blood while her new pancreas will produce insulin to manage her blood sugar, effectively ending her status as a type 1 diabetic.
The transplant milestone took place in November and offers fresh hope for type 1 diabetics with significant complications such as kidney failure or those who cannot successfully control their blood sugar with insulin injections.
“The introduction of pancreas transplantation in the UAE has the potential to significantly change lives for the better. We can now combine a life-saving kidney transplant with a life altering pancreas transplant that frees patients with type 1 diabetes from daily insulin injections. For patients who have been living with the need to inject insulin every day, that feeling of liberation can be truly profound,” says Dr. Luis Campos, the surgeon who led the transplant operation at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
The rare, dual organ transplant marked Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s 100th organ transplant since the introduction of transplant services in 2017. The hospital is the only multi-organ transplant center in the UAE and one of only a small number worldwide with the expertise, facilities and training to be able to perform pancreatic transplants. The operation requires detailed planning, and the input of a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, endocrinologists, social workers, nurses and allied health professionals.
Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The condition usually presents during childhood and affects around 5% of all diabetics worldwide.
“Pancreas transplants are very complex operations that require a great deal of evaluation before the surgery can take place. Most patients with type 1 diabetes can manage their blood sugar using insulin injections. However, if they develop kidney disease that progresses to the point they require a transplant, combining that procedure with a pancreas transplant can really change their life, allowing them to eat and drink normally, without worrying about their blood sugar levels,” continues Dr. Campos.
Since undergoing surgery, the recipient continues to recover well, and her body is able to produce insulin for the first time in more than 20 years. Transplant recipients receive close monitoring in the first weeks and months following their operation as they resume their normal lives.
For more information or to book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call (800 222 33), visit www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi app.