Kidney and Pancreas Transplant

The University of Michigan Transplant Center is home to the first, largest, and most advanced kidney transplant program in the state, and among the leading programs in the nation. We also have one of the oldest and most active pancreas programs in the country. Our transplant doctors have performed more than 5,400 kidney transplants since 1964, and more than 400 pancreas transplants since 1984. In addition, we offer services that are not widely available elsewhere, including a Paired Kidney Donation Program that uses organ matching software developed at the University of Michigan to pair kidney donors to hard-to-match recipients, and a Kidney Desensitization Program for people with too many antibodies or whose blood type doesn’t match an available donor.

Kidney transplantation allows people with end stage kidney failure to avoid or eliminate the need for dialysis and prolong life. Pancreas transplantion is most often performed to improve the quality of life for people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Since severe Type 1 diabetes is often associated with chronic kidney failure, many people who need a pancreas transplant also need a kidney transplant, which is why we group kidney transplant and pancreas transplant together. (Learn about the Michigan Transplant Center's kidney and pancreas transplant process or review our Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Patient Care Guide.)

Our outcomes for kidney and pancreas transplantation are in compliance with the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. Our overall patient survival rate at one year is 98%, our kidney transplant survival for one year is 95%, and our pancreas graft survival for one year is 85%-90%. 

About Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplantation improves the length and quality of life of people whose own kidneys have failed. Diseased kidneys do not do a good job of filtering toxins or removing water from the body, so if you have diseased kidneys, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay healthy.  Learn the basics of kidney transplantation here.

Kidney Desensitization Program

Because of our high volume and decades of experience, we can perform transplants on people who have been turned down by other centers, including those needing kidney transplants who are “sensitized” (having high amounts of antibodies circulating in the blood that can result in rejecting the donor kidney). The University of Michigan Kidney Desensitization Program allows our team to perform a kidney transplant in patients who otherwise might not have this opportunity because they are sensitized.

We have two desensitization protocols: one for patients with living kidney donors and one for patients on the deceased kidney donor list. Since April 2012, we have performed kidney transplants on four patients using the living donor desensitization protocol, and six patients using the deceased donor protocol, including a pediatric patient. Currently we have 24 patients being actively desensitized for a deceased donor kidney transplant.

We are the only program in the Michigan that offers kidney desensitization. Find out more about the University of Michigan Kidney Desensitization Program.

Kidney Transplant Research Studies

Research is an important component of the University of Michigan Transplant Center, where we are committed to cutting-edge studies that will benefit today's patient and patients of the future. As the site of the Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center, our team annually collects and analyzes data on dialysis patients worldwide, and on all transplant recipients in the U.S. This makes us the world's leader in dialysis and transplant outcomes research. Current research studies include looking at patient frailty and conditioning and how that relates to outcome and possibility of intervention; and researching antibody-mediated rejection. Furthermore, comprehensive multi-disciplinary clinics and extensive clinical and basic science research program assure you access to the newest medications and technologies.

About Pancreas Transplant

Pancreas transplantation is most often performed on patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus so that some of the disease's complications can be avoided, halted, or delayed. It can also prevent life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Once a donor pancreas is successfully transplanted, it produces the insulin that the body needs to keep the blood sugar at normal levels. The pancreas also continues to produce digestive enzymes. These drain into the organ to which the pancreas is attached at the time of the operation. This most likely is the intestine, but sometimes, the bladder is used instead.

Pancreas transplantation is not done in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (adult onset). Although these patients have trouble making enough insulin, they also have a decreased sensitivity to insulin. Since insulin resistance is a problem that a pancreas transplant cannot correct, you would still have Type 2 diabetes even if you received a pancreas transplant.

Pancreas transplantation can be performed along with a deceased donor kidney (simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant, SPK). It can also be performed after a kidney transplant (pancreas after kidney, PAK), and in some cases, before the native kidneys fail.

Get Evaluated

To make an appointment to evaluate your need for a kidney transplant or kidney-pancreas transplant within the University of Michigan Transplant Center, call a patient care representative at 1-800-333-9013. Find a University of Michigan kidney transplant doctor.