At only about 3.5 ounces, the pancreas is one of the body's smallest organs. Yet this digestive powerhouse, located below the liver and under the stomach, is responsible for regulating the absorption of sugar into cells by making insulin. When the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, blood sugars levels can spike dangerously high and low. This condition is known as Type I, or juvenile, diabetes. Although it can develop at any age, Type I diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults who are genetically predisposed to the disorder.
While more than 1,400 people are currently on the pancreas transplant waiting list, only a few hundred of the procedures are performed each year. An additional 2,300 people are waiting for a dual kidney and pancreas transplant. Many pancreas recipients are forced to wait for 1-3 years before finding a pancreas donor that is a match for them. For those suffering with Type I diabetes, a pancreas transplant presents the only potential cure. Registering to become a pancreas donor can provide new hope to people whose lives depend on finding a match.