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Montefiore in the News

January 28, 2010

Transplant Program to Treat Patients with End-Stage Diabetes is First of Its Kind in Bronx and Westchester

New York City, NY (January 28, 2010) - Montefiore Medical Center continues to expand its portfolio of options for patients in need of organ transplantation. The new Pancreas Transplant Program will treat patients with severe, end-stage diabetes. As the only Pancreas Transplant Program in the Bronx and Westchester, and one of only several in Greater New York, patients will be able to receive world-class care close to home. The program currently has nine patients medically approved and waiting for a pancreas transplant.

"The Bronx represents a well-documented high risk community with a higher than average incidence of diabetes and diabetes secondary complications, so there is a critical need here for a first-rate pancreas transplant program," said the program's director, Javier Chapochnick Friedmann, M.D., a transplant specialist.

Montefiore Medical Center has a proud tradition of offering kidney and liver organ transplantation with excellent results. "The recruitment of Dr. Chapochnick Friedmann from Chicago adds to the tremendous abdominal organ transplant team led by Dr. Milan Kinkhabwala," said Robert Michler, M.D., Surgeon-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Surgery.

The pancreas program, along with existing, well-established kidney and liver transplant programs, is located on Montefiore's Moses campus in a newly renovated suite of clinical offices that now houses the entire Abdominal Transplant Division.

"A pancreas transplant is reserved for those patients with diabetes who cannot be controlled by standard treatment," said Dr. Chapochnick Friedmann. "When a transplant is necessary, however, the results are excellent."

There are approximately 1 million patients with diabetes in New York State and an additional 450,000 who do not know they have diabetes. There are 1,400 pancreas transplants performed each year in the United States.

Most patients who receive a pancreas transplant also receive a kidney transplant. The vast majority of these dual transplant procedures (approximately 75-80 percent) are done simultaneously in one operation. A lesser, but growing number of patients first receive a kidney transplant and then later, in a separate operation, a pancreas transplant.

The pancreas is located behind the stomach and makes insulin, a hormone that is necessary to control blood sugar levels in the body. When the pancreas does not function well and produces too little insulin, blood sugar levels can rise to dangerous levels and this can lead to diabetes. For many patients with diabetes, insulin shots are the answer. For a select few, however, who develop severe diabetes with complications (such as heart problems), a new pancreas/kidney transplant may be life saving.