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Pancreas Transplant Patient Guide
Rejection and Complications

What is Rejection?

Rejection is a term used when the body reacts against the transplanted organ(s). The transplant team will monitor you for any signs of rejection. You should be aware of the following symptoms and report any of them to the nursing staff or transplant team:

  • increase in temperature, above 100° F
  • flu-like symptoms
  • sudden increase in weight
  • pain, tenderness, or swelling of the new organ(s)
  • anything that is red, swollen, warm to touch or that has a discharge
  • ankle swelling
  • shortness of breath
  • decrease in urine output
  • change in glucose control

Most patients experiencing rejection have no symptoms and the diagnosis is made solely on the basis of blood tests, such as an increase in blood B.U.N., glucose, creatinine or amylase.

A rejection episode does not mean that you have lost your new organ or that it has failed. It means that your body has realized that the new organ does not belong to you, and tries to fight the organ off, just as your body tries to fight off an infection, cold, virus, etc.

There are medications available to treat rejection. Your transplant team will determine which type of medication will be most effective for you.


Some complications from pancreas transplant surgery include:

  • vascular thrombosis (clotting of blood vessels)
  • hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • infection
  • Diabetes or high blood sugar counts
    These may occur when taking prednisone. Your blood sugar is checked whenever your blood is drawn. Symptoms of high blood sugars may include feeling extremely thirsty, weak, dizzy, having blurry vision, and urinating large amounts. If diabetes occurs, a patient may be required to be on a diabetic diet, take a pill, or take insulin shots to regulate his/her blood sugar. Your transplant team works closely with the diabetic center to best manage your blood sugar, in case this becomes a problem.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
    Some transplant recipients will get high blood pressure from being on cyclosporine. A combination of weight control, regular walking or other exercise, and medication will keep your blood pressure in an acceptable range. Generally speaking, an acceptable range is where the systolic (or top number) is less than 140 and the diastolic (or bottom number) is less than 85.
  • Kidney failure
    Taking some immunosuppressant medications can sometimes cause kidney damage. This is why your Creatinine (Cr) level is monitored every time you come into clinic. You may not feel differently even when your kidneys are not functioning normally. However, you may have increased swelling in your ankles, feet or hands.
  • Lymphoproliferative disease (cancer)
    Approximately 3% of individuals who receive transplants develop lymphoproliferative disease, which is cancer involving the lymph nodes. This may or may not be related to a viral infection called Epstein-barr virus. It may be responsive to decreased immunosuppressive medications, acyclovir, or chemotherapy.


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For Liver, Pancreas and Bile Duct Surgery, please call (323) 442-7172. For Organ Transplant Information, please call (323) 442-5908

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USC Hepatobiliary, Pancreas and
Abdominal Organ Transplant

1450 San Pablo Street
Healthcare Consultation Center 4
Suite 6200
Los Angeles, CA 90089

For Liver, Pancreas & Bile Duct Surgery,
please call (323) 442-7172
Fax: (323) 442-7173

For Organ Transplant Information,
please call (323) 442-5908

Fax: (323) 442-5721

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