It was once touted as a potential cure for diabetes this experimental and revolutionary treatment is called Islet Cell Transplantation. Doctors remove millions of insulin producing cells from the pancreas of two to three cadaver donors and infuse them into the liver of a diabetic patient.
So what's new? After extensive study from the diabetes research institute, researchers and patients agree it is not the miracle they had hoped for but it is a step in the right direction.
"Eighty percent of patients remained insulin independent at one year post transplant. However, as the study continued what they found was a progressive loss of independence in these patients. By three years only fifty-six percent of patients were insulin independent, and by five years only fifteen percent of patients were insulin independent," said Dr. Dolca Thomas, a Nephrologist.
Dr. Thomas says some patients need a repeat infusion and all take anti-rejection medication daily. But there are still some who are able to give up their daily injections. So, overall, researchers say the islet transplantation is encouraging because the proof is there that it works for some patients. The challenge now is to improve it, so that this or a similar transplant will work for all diabetics.