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Living Donors The Best Source Of Islets For Diabetes Treatment

Obtaining islet cells from living donors may be a solution to the shortage of islets available for transplantation. According to a new study in Clinical Transplantation, obtaining islet cells (clusters of pancreatic cells that create insulin) from living donors may be a solution to the shortage of islets available for transplantation. In samples taken from living donors, 94 percent of the cells were viable for transplant, compared to only 42 percent of cells taken from deceased donors.

"Islet cell transplantation is the only known cure for insulin-dependent diabetes, but there are simply not enough deceased donors available to meet the demand for islet cells," says study author Dr. Kwang-Won Kim. "In fact, we sometimes require islet cells from two deceased donors to gather enough cells to treat one patient." Living donors would be able to provide many more healthy cells, since islet cells begin to deteriorate immediately after brain death.

Unfortunately, obtaining islet cells from living donors is not a risk-free procedure; donors may become susceptible to developing diabetes themselves. "Obviously, more research is needed to determine the risk to donors and ensure their safety, but if a low-risk donation strategy could be established, living donors could dramatically improve the supply of islet cells for transplant," says Kim.

Clinical Transplantation Nov. 2007