Can I give my pancreas?

I know this may sound crazy but this scenario just popped in my head today. My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 a year ago. Every time she gets sad it literally breaks my heart. Has a parent ever given a healthy pancreas to their child? I don’t care if I become diabetic. Is this a thing?

Pancreas transplants are not common because the T-cells of the recipient would attack it and destroy it. Your child would need to get on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of her life which generally is considered a bigger risk and hassle than T1 diabetes.


It would be almost impossible to find a surgeon to remove a pancreas form a healthy person. Transplant or not. Consider that at this time the average live span a transplanted pancreas is less than 10 years, it is unlikely a good option.

In addition recall the pancreas does more than just manufacture insulin. TO live you would have to replace those functions.

We do have a former member who has received two experimental transplants. At this time the additional pancreas is not working.


While you cannot give your pancreas to your daughter, you can educate yourself as to what advances are being made to better control Type 1 diabetes. One such area is transplantation of the islets of Langerhans, a part of the pancreas that helps recipients naturally produce some insulin on their own after transplantation. Currently, these transplants are experimental, so they only are available through specific clinical trials. At the present time, the islets of Langerhans only come from cadavers, although some doctors are working on extracting these islets of Langerhans from living donors. Two main drawbacks, in your case, are the fact that your daughter is just a child. No studies, as far as I know, use children for these transplants. The other drawback is that, like any transplantation procedure, the recipient must be on immunosuppressive drugs the rest of her life. Believe me, you DO NOT want that for your child. I currently am on immunosuppressive drugs, and the risks and side-effects of these drugs are not something I would wish for anyone.

You are a great Mom for wanting the best for your child, but at this point, transplantation is not the way to go. I was diagnosed with Type 1 when I was 12. I understand some of what your daughter thinks and feels right now. The best thing you can do is show her your love as you help her learn how to deal with eating, exercise, injections or pumps, CGMs, and, most importantly, with her own confidence and self-worth. She is not a diabetic first who happens to be a child. She is a fantastic kid who just happens to have diabetes. Hugs to you both!


Not for islet cell transplants, but there is other remarkable research being done on recently diagnosed T1s, who still have beta cell function. Basically trying to preserve the ability to make insulin, and sometimes even reverse the diabetes. While the stem cell/beta cell implants are seen as the future pathway to a “cure”, these early onset reversals have been the most successful line of study thus far! 1 year is kinda borderline for qualification, it depends on the study, but certainly worth investigating.

You can search studies that are recruiting at if you’re in the US.

And props to a mama who’s even willing to consider such a sacrifice for your daughter! But know it does get easier with time. This community is full of people who have lived long, happy lives with T1. Please look into finding a diabetes summer camp for your daughter, it’s the best thing my parents ever did for me. It gave me a sense of normalcy about all this and showed me that I could still do absolutely anything, and was a great opportunity to make friends who really got it. I was 4 years into my diabetes journey when I first went, but it was a big changing point for me where I stopped being depressed about it and started moving on beyond the diagnosis.


Obviously you love your daughter - my mom wanted to do the same thing. But…total different scenario. I was 30 years old, recently retired ballet dancer when Dx’d with T1D (it wasn’t LADA). I was fortunate that I was (somewhat) grown up) and my job required that I not weigh much, so watching what I ate, the physicality of the job meant that I had no lifestyle changes to make. I had a period of mourning - which is likely what is causing your daughter to feel sad. For me though, I had a much longer period of anger. I “used to have a body that could do amazing things - and now it’s broken” not so much “why me?” as “what did I do wrong?” This was 40 years ago, and I’ve learned a lot about the causes, risks etc and have long since forgiven myself.

How old is your daughter? I’ve heard that diabetes camps are terrific and helping a child own their situation, see others just like them, and everyone (no matter what type of camp) always thinks the counselors are cool and aspire to be like them. Fortunately there are lots of T1D role models that show T1D doesn’t have to limit options and chances.

Another reply - this focusing on you. As was posted earlier, the pancreas does more than produce and secrete insulin. And it is a totally different thing than donating a kidney. We have two kidneys, and can live well with just one. I have a friend who had to have her pancreas removed and the burdens of living (and she is doing a damn good job - but it is a ton of work with lots of co-morbidities). All I can suggest is you search for Facebook groups for people like my friend. Search for people who have had pancreasectomies, or those living without a pancreas. You would probably get a good look at what is required.

I also can’t help but think about the impact on your daughter. I know that if it were possible at my Dx for my mother to do that, and I watched what she had to go through to live, I would carry so much guilt.

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This response may not be exactly what you are wanting but if one of my kids developed T1 I would start them on AAPS with a DASH pod and G6. Being a diabetic for 40 years this is the closest thing to being “normal” yet.

They will do a pancreas transplant (at the University of Washington State) if she has liver failure. They will transplant both organs simultaneously, but not just a pancreas. A pancreas isn’t considered worth it to be stuck on anti-rejection drugs. It’s better to be a diabetic than to be on anti-rejection drugs.