Landmark Westmead Hospital treatment continues to save lives – 30 years on

Pancreas transplant patients celebrate 30 years of transplantation at Westmead Hospital. Longest-surviving patient David Atkins cut the ceremonial cake.

It’s 30 years since the first pancreas transplantation at Westmead Hospital – a treatment that has since saved more than 500 lives.

Westmead Hospital was the first hospital in Australia to offer pancreas transplantation, transforming the lives of patients with severe type one diabetes and end-stage kidney failure.

Today, it is one of only two pancreas transplantation centres in Australia, and has a global reputation for excellence in kidney and pancreas transplantation.

Westmead Hospital renal physician Professor Jeremy Chapman said 500 patients would not be around today without the revolutionary treatment.

“In the early 1980s, Westmead Hospital developed a comprehensive research program to explore the benefits of pancreas transplantation for those with type one diabetes,” he said.

“The first pancreas transplant was in 1987; thanks to pancreas transplantation, we have improved the survival of people with type one diabetes and kidney failure and prevented the disease from being worse than most cancers.”

The treatment means patients with type one diabetes no longer require insulin or weekly dialysis visits.

Up to 70 people develop end-stage kidney failure due to type one diabetes each year – a figure that highlights the critical importance of organ donation in Australia.

Professor Chapman said he was grateful to the donors and their families who had made organ transplant therapy possible in Australia.

“I’d also like to thank the brave patients who took on an uncertain new therapy when we introduced it, and the research and clinical staff who helped bring an idea to reality and save hundreds of people,” he said.

People who would like to register to donate their organs can visit

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