The risks of islet transplantation can be divided into 1) those associated with the procedure itself, and 2) those associated with immunosuppression. These risks are outlined here.
Significant experience has been gained in the 15 years since the program launched and currently the procedure is safer than it has ever been. We have also become skilled at tailoring the immunosuppressant drugs to the needs of the individual to minimize side effects.
Islet transplant procedure
Complications of diabetes
The rapid stabilization of glucose levels during the first year following an islet transplant may be associated with progression of eye disease, particularly in people who have had laser treatment or surgery for diabetic retinopathy. Our preliminary data from those who have received islet transplants indicates an 8% risk. Because of this risk, the back of your eyes will be checked every three months during the first year and annually thereafter to identify these possible changes early on. You will be required to see an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) yearly for assessment of eye disease.Immune problems from the islet graft (sensitization)
Transplantation of human islets from another person could lead to the development of antibodies against the proteins (antigens) on the islet tissue. These antibodies will create memory against these antigens and mark them for destruction. This memory could increase the difficulty of obtaining another transplant at a later date because the immune response will be much quicker the next time these antigens are seen by the immune system. This creates less likelihood for successful renal and/or other organ transplants.
Copyright 2009 Clinical Islet Transplant Program