One of the Most Dramatic Operations I Perform
Date: April 1, 2013
Perhaps the most interesting thing about pancreatic islet transplantation is the method we use at Johns Hopkins. Our technique separates us from every other center where this procedure is performed.
Anywhere else, if a patient has an islet transplantation, they must first undergo a separate pancreatectomy, wait for their organ to be processed through an outside laboratory (which can take several days), and then return for a second operation to transplant the cells.
Not so at Johns Hopkins. Instead, our center is able to perform all of the laboratory work in the operating room during the same procedure, saving our patients the frustration, anxiety and pain of having to undergo two separate surgeries for the same outcome.
For Alison Sarver, that outcome has been incredible.
Patients like Alison experience debilitating pain that often can only be stopped by removing the pancreas. Of course, that comes with its own risks—particularly a higher chance of developing diabetes. But most are willing to make the trade if it means a life without pain.
Of the many different kinds of surgery I perform in my practice, the islet transplantation is by far the most dramatic and life-changing. People go from being completely disabled and in intense pain to having a normal life restored. To be involved in that is incredibly satisfying.
by Martin Makary