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First partial pancreas transplant a success

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A 56-YEAR-OLD Japanese woman has donated half of her pancreas to treat her daughter’s diabetes. It is the first time a living donor has donated part of this organ.

After removing the pancreatic tissue at Kyoto University Hospital in Japan on 19 January, James Shapiro of the University of Alberta in Canada and his colleagues extracted the islet cells and transplanted them into the woman’s 27-year-old daughter.The islet cells began producing insulin minutes after the transplant, says Shapiro, who in 2000 developed the so-called “Edmonton protocol. This is a procedure for isolating and transplanting islet cells taken from cadavers or people pronounced brain dead, and a cocktail of drugs to prevent rejection. It appears to cure diabetes – although patients have to take the anti-rejection drugs for life – but so far only 500 people have been treated worldwide because of a severe shortage of islet cells from the usual sources.”There are more cells in half a living pancreas than from two whole ones from cadavers,” says Shapiro. “I personally think the technique could increase availability enormously.”Surviving with half a pancreas should not be a problem for healthy donors, Shapiro adds, though there is a slight risk they may develop diabetes themselves if too much is removed.(Source: From issue 2486 of New Scientist magazine, 12 February 2005, page 17, February 2005)

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Posted On: 10 February, 2005
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

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