A 25-year-old man with diabetes yesterday celebrated his new lease on life after becoming the 100th patient to receive a pancreas transplant at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital.
According to the hospital’s Division of General Surgery director Shyr Yi-ming (石宜銘), the man, surnamed Wu (吳), developed Type-1 diabetes when he was 19 months old and had since been reliant on insulin injections to keep his blood sugar levels under control.
“After losing consciousness on several occasions due to an abrupt decline in his blood glucose levels, Wu turned to the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, which has prided itself in its pancreas transplant technologies,” Shyr told a press conference in Taipei held to mark what he said is a significant milestone for the hospital.
Photo: Courtesy of Taipei Veterans General Hospital
Shyr said Wu waited seven months before the hospital found him a matching pancreas, which was relatively short given the limited number of between 150 and 200 organ donors in the nation per year.
The transplant for Wu was conducted successfully on Oct. 13, about 11 years after the hospital carried out its first pancreas transplantation on Sept. 19, 2003.
In Taiwan, a pancreas transplant is by far the most reliable and permanent cure for Type-1 diabetes, whose sufferers often spend their entire life monitoring their blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy diet and regulating their insulin injections, Shyr said.
“The procedure has been covered by the National Health Insurance program since Jan. 1, 2008, and is applicable to four kinds of patients,” the doctor said.
People with Type-1 diabetes or low levels of insulin production who also suffer from diabetic complications — such as kidney disease, retinal damage and cardiovascular diseases — and Type-1 diabetes patients whose life is constantly put at risk by a sudden drop or increase in blood glucose are the first two groups.
Type-1 diabetes patients whose difficulties in maintaining blood sugar levels have significantly impeded their pursuit of education, jobs or daily life and people with Type-2 diabetes who are dependent on insulin injections and whose kidneys have failed and require a new pair round out the populations for whom the procedure is indicated.
There are about 90 people on the national waiting list for a pancreas transplant.
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