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How is the Edmonton Protocol performed?

In an Edmonton Protocol procedure for type 1 diabetes, researchers use specialized enzymes to remove islets from the pancreas of a deceased donor. For an average-size person (70 kg), a typical transplant requires about 1 million islets, equal to two donor organs. Because the islets are extremely fragile, transplantation occurs immediately after they are removed.

The transplant itself is easy and takes less than an hour to complete. The surgeon uses ultrasound to guide placement of a small plastic tube (catheter) through the upper abdomen and into the liver. The islets are then injected through the catheter into the liver. The patient will receive a local anesthetic. If a patient cannot tolerate local anesthesia, the surgeon may use general anesthesia and do the transplant through a small incision.

It takes some time for the cells to attach to new blood vessels and begin releasing insulin. The doctor will order many tests to check blood glucose levels after the transplant, and insulin may be needed until control is achieved.

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