The treatment of islet, or pancreas cell, transplants will be available for people suffering from diabetes in Bristol from September for the first time, it has emerged. The new transplants will be most useful for those who have low levels of blood sugar or hypoglycaemia in connection with their diabetes.
The transplants will be offered at Southmead Hospital in the city for those with type 1 diabetes, with surgeons using pancreas that have been donated through the organ donor scheme. Patients that receive the transplant can do away with the necessity of insulin injections or infusions for a while after the operation has been completed.
It is thought that around 350,000 people in the UK have type 1 diabetes, while the transplants are only suitable for around 10 per cent of those. A whole pancreas transplant will not be available at the hospital, as it is a tricky and sometimes dangerous operation. Although the islet transplants are less effective as the whole pancreas operatio, they are safer.
Richard Smith, who leads the Bristol service, commented “As a kidney doctor I see a lot of people with diabetes because it is the main cause of kidney failure . When transplants became available for diabetes it made sense to do this.”
He added “Islet transplants are almost like pancreas-lite. It is a simple procedure with less risk involved. For the right person it is a good option.”

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