Can You Live Without Your Pancreas?


Quick Answer

It is possible to live without a pancreas, although daily insulin injections and the use of digestive enzymes are necessary. Experts from Cedars-Sinai say pancreatic transplantation is also an option in some patients.

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Full Answer

The pancreas carries out two important functions. One is producing hormones that control a person's blood sugar level. These hormones are called glucagon and insulin. The other function is releasing digestive enzymes to help break down food.

Someone without a pancreas is unable to produce glucagon and insulin. This is why daily insulin injections are necessary. Digestive enzyme supplements are used to replace the enzymes that are normally released by the pancreas.

During a pancreas transplant, a surgeon takes a healthy pancreas from a donor and transplants it into someone who does not have a pancreas or has a damaged pancreas. If the transplant is successful, the patient may be able to avoid taking insulin.

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