Adelaide transplant team achieves Australian-first

26 July 2020

26 July 2020

Surgeons at the Royal Adelaide Hospital have successfully performed Australia’s first simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant for a patient with Type-2 diabetes. 

Director of Transplant Medicine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), Professor Toby Coates, said the South Australian transplant program continues to look for innovation and embrace world leading practices.

“As we mark the beginning of DonateLife Week, it is important to reflect on just how far we’ve come in South Australia with the treatment of patients with kidney failure,” Professor Coates said.

“This latest milestone is another way we’ve been able to transform the life of a patient, helping them to get off dialysis and lead a better life. Our world class care really is helping us to change lives.

“We couldn’t do this without our organ donors, so I would like to take the opportunity to thank them and their families for making the decision to provide this amazing gift.”

The double organ transplant was performed on a 39-year-old patient with Type-2 diabetes who had been on dialysis since 2018.

He spent seven days in hospital before returning home, and is now showing excellent kidney and pancreas function.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) transplant surgeon, Dr Shantanu Bhattacharjya, said the surgery was made possible due to South Australia’s unique transplant drug treatment and the patient’s overall health.

“This patient was a great candidate for the surgery because of his low insulin requirement, young age and overall health and fitness,” Dr Bhattacharjya said.

“By undergoing this double transplant, the new pancreas works to bring the patient’s blood sugar under control, which protects the new kidney and helps it to last an average of 10 years longer.

“This surgery has been performed on kidney failure patients with Type-1 diabetes at the RAH since 2018 and after the success with the first patient with Type-2 diabetes, we now hope to continue to offer this surgery to other suitable patients with Type-2.”

This week is DonateLife Week which aims to encourage Australians to register as organ donors.

Medical Director of DonateLife SA, Dr Stewart Moodie, said it is important that people speak with their loved ones about organ and tissue donation and make their wishes known.

“The legacy of organ donation is incredibly valuable to many families and the entire community,” Dr Moodie said.

“DonateLife SA works closely with hospital teams to ensure that organ and tissue donation is explored with all families when their loved one is at the end-of-life.”

For more information, go to the DonateLife website.

CALHN kidney and pancreas transplant milestones

  • February 1965 – Australia’s first successful kidney transplant.
  • December 1965 – Australia’s first use of CAT scan radiology to assess living donor kidney arteries.
  • May 1997 – Australia’s first laparoscopic or keyhole surgery kidney donation.
  • November 2005 – South Australia’s first desensitisation kidney transplant, where the patient’s immune system is modified to allow an incompatible transplant to occur.
  • September 2006 – Australia’s first multi-organ donation after circulatory death (liver, kidney and lung).
  • 2018 – South Australia’s first successful simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant
  • January 2020 – A 58-year-old patient becomes the oldest recipient of a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant in Australia.
  • June 2020 – Australia’s first simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant for a patient with Type-2 diabetes.