Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine's newly launched pancreas transplant program has cured patient Anthony Law of his life-threatening type 1 diabetes. Before his transplant, Mr. Law had "brittle" diabetes, characterized by extreme swings in blood sugar levels. His diabetes was so out of control that Mr. Law's family had to wake him up every two hours to ensure his sugars were in a normal range.
Since his transplant, Mr. Law's blood sugar levels have been steady. He no longer has to take insulin and he has not experienced life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
"The surgery for me has been phenomenal, because I can do things now that I wasn't able to do," Mr. Law said.
The pancreas transplant program is headed by medical director Amishi Desai, DO, and surgical director Raquel Garcia Roca, MD. Prior to joining Loyola, Dr. Garcia Roca performed more than 75 pancreas transplants at other centers.
The pancreas produces hormones such as insulin to control sugar levels. The organ also makes proteins to help digest food.
"For Type 1 diabetes patients who are experiencing serious complications from their disease, pancreas transplants can be a potential cure," Dr. Garcia Roca said.
Dr. Desai added: "Nothing gives the transplant team more satisfaction than seeing a patient off insulin and off medications, with the ability to do everything they previously may not have been able to do because of the restrictions of their disease."
Loyola Medicine now is one of only three centers in Illinois that perform transplants on five major solid transplant organs: heart, lung, kidney, liver and pancreas.
The pancreas transplant program was approved by the United Network for Organ Sharing and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, after more than a year of careful planning involving many physicians, nurses and other clinicians from multiple disciplines.