New Pancreas, No More Diabetes

FRESNO, Calif.

For 19 year old Danielle Scheetz, growing up hasn't been all fun and games.

From age 5 on, she had to adjust her life to the challenges of type one diabetes. Her disease was so severe, it was damaging her kidneys.

"I had to take medicine morning and night and do the insulin, before the pump I had the insulin shots three or four times a day…annoying, very difficult, I guess," Scheetz, 19 years old, told Ivanhoe.

Recently doctors told her she was out of time -- she needed a new kidney.

Doctor Jason Wellen performed a combination transplant. Not only a new kidney to replace the failing one, but also a pancreas from the same donor.

"These patients most often never require an additional unit of insulin from the time they leave the operating room. What that allows is that prevents their type one diabetes that they had prior to the transplant from attacking that new kidney," Jason R. Wellen, M.D., assistant professor of surgery and director of kidney and pancreatic transplantation at Washington University School of Medicine, explained.

A new, properly functioning pancreas stabilized her sugar levels.

"It's still weird to think about that I'm not diabetic anymore. I don't think it's still completely hit me," Scheetz said.

Nine months after surgery ...

"I just feel like I can do whatever I want. It's almost like I say to myself… 'I can do anything now, what can I do?' "Scheetz concluded.

She's celebrating a whole new life, diabetes-free!

It's not unusual after this double transplant procedure for a patient to have two pancreases and two kidneys. Doctors don't remove the old pancreas because it's so close to other vital organs. Patients who have this double transplant procedure no longer need insulin, but they must remain on anti-rejection medication.

If you would like more information, please contact: Judy Martin Associate Director Of Media Relations Washington University School Of Medicine Martinju@wustl.edu

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