Benefits and Risks of Kidney and Pancreas Transplant

Our kidney and pancreas transplant team is comprised of leading experts in the field and has developed various protocols and regimens currently in use around the world. However, transplantation still poses risks and should be a treatment that is given careful consideration.


Kidney transplant provides an alternative to dialysis.

For people on dialysis, a kidney transplant may be more effective for managing kidney disease.

Kidney transplant can make possible:

  • A more normal lifestyle and freedom from dialysis.
  • A longer life span. On average, kidney transplant patients typically live 10 to 15 years longer than those on dialysis alone.
  • Fewer medical complications than from dialysis, such as anemia, bone disease, heart disease, and vascular disease.

Kidney and pancreas transplant offers improved quality of life.

Kidney or pancreas transplantation can be a life-enhancing option for people fighting renal disease, diabetes, or both.

After a transplant, many people experience:

  • Freedom from insulin therapy
  • Fuller, healthier lives
  • More energy
  • Fewer dietary restrictions
  • The ability to return to work

Pancreas transplant offers hope to people with type 1 diabetes.

With improved surgical techniques, UPMC surgeons have found that pancreas transplant can benefit people who are suffering from diabetes, with or without end-stage kidney disease.

Pancreas transplant can help:

  • Improve quality of life.
  • Achieve normal blood sugar without insulin.
  • Prevent or improve complications of diabetes.


Waitlist Times for Donor Organs

While UPMC's transplant median waitlist times are shorter than the national median waitlist time, some people do not survive the waitlist for a kidney or pancreas to become available.

Currently, more than 94,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Our living-donor kidney transplant program can eliminate waitlist times for kidney transplant patients.


As with any surgical procedure, kidney and pancreas transplant carries risks, including surgical and medical complications or even death.

The UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program provides services to all who may benefit, including patients who are considered high-risk, and our transplant team maintains outcomes that meet national benchmarks.

Side Effects of Transplant Medications

After transplant, patients take medications to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. These medications can have side effects, including:

  • Increased susceptibility of infections
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Metabolic (new-onset diabetes, elevated cholesterol, weight gain)
  • Kidney injury

UPMC is actively participating in research and clinical trials that will lower the dosage of these medications and help reduce or eliminate these risks.

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