Islet cell transplants in Scotland

By | 5 July, 2011

NHS Scotland announced today, in a reasonably sensible and balanced press release that “the Scottish National Pancreatic Islet Transplant Programme, launched in November 2009, has now carried out three islet cell infusions in two patients who as a result, no longer require insulin or risk the loss of consciousness due to hypoglycaemic attack.” 

This dog is pleased to see some progress in this area and jolly pleased that it seems to be making a difference for two of our pancreatically challenged peers.

Cynical bloggers have commented before on ShootUp about whether this is the best use of funds when it comes to delivering good quality healthcare to all so we won’t go there again. However, this dog would be interested to know if the recipient quoted as having “no awareness of my blood sugar levels or if I was about to collapse” whilst on 4 injections a day prior to the transplant had been given the opportunity to try using a pump and CGM to see if that would make a difference, rather than an invasive proceedure with limited success and potential side effects from anti-rejection drugs (which are conveniently omitted from the press release). Just wondering, that’s all.

4 thoughts on “Islet cell transplants in Scotland

  1. Karen


    a couple of years ago we (some mums of T1 kids) attended a DUK meeting where their president Richard Lane was the speaker. Probably you know where I am going with this but if not here goes. He himself is T1 and suffers from the no awareness thingy. His story was about being diagnosed in his early thirties and how the impact especially the keeling over without notice affected his work and home life. Turns out he was (I think) the first ever person to receive islet transplant. It took donations from three bodies (folk that had been declared dead but who’s family had agreed to donate organs etc) before his pancreas was up and running enough for him to quit injections altogether. I was moved to tears over the whole donation bit where he would get a call in the middle of the night to say a donor had been found only to get to the hospital to say the family of the dead person had changed their mind. But after three donations he was diabetes free. I cried at that aswell. Being diagnosed T1 is shocking but imagine being told by the doc to stop your injections you dont them anymore. I cant imagine that at all. I am sure I would still carry all the equipment anyway, just incase!!!

    I cant recall how long the transplant worked. It was a few years I think and then it wore off. To sustain the level of health his pancreas needed, he would have had to undergone more transplants and if I recall he had other health issues which meant he couldnt or didnt want to endure the effects of the anti rejection medication. So he is on a pump and cgm and as he was up there speaking for over an hour I was wondering what his bloods were and if he was ok but no need to worry as the alarm went and out came the jelly babies.

    Hearing his story was enlightening and speaking to him afterwards was one of the most positive diabetes conversations I have ever had. I came away convinced that a real cure for diabetes would be found during the lifetime of my 6 year old but not convinced that the cure was going to come by way of islet tranplants from donors as demand would always outstrip supply.

    Now if they could just find a way to “grow your own” …..

  2. Kaitake

    That’s so good to know that more than one bunch of researchers is hunting for the cure.

    Here in New Zealand Professor Bob Elliot of LCT Global has had some good success with human clinical trials of micro-encapsulated pig islets. The encapsulation means NO anti-rejection drugs are needed. They are starting another clinical trial in Argentina shortly to figure out the most efficient dosage. Have a read here:

  3. Spike Jones

    @kaitake Sounds brilliant. My only fear is that because it is a “treat & forget” with no need for such pesky inconveniences as immunosuppression, it will somehow get stomped on by the big pharmaceutical companies. That said, I’ve bookmarked the site & will be enquiring if I can volunteer for their European or British trials. Pretty please. 😀

  4. lizz

    I’ve been listening out for the encapsulated info. Sounds good. I meet the criteria at the minute, but I don’t think I will for long…


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