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Islet cell transplantation: improving regional accessibility

Patient Denise James describes the positive impact of islet cell transplantation

Professor Paul Johnson outlines the procedure

Rob Crookston discusses the hub and spoke clinic approach to the service

Islet cell transplantation is an established but specialist treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes and severe hypoglycaemia that involves extracting islet cells from the pancreas of a deceased donor and implanting them in the liver of recipients. Following the procedure blood glucose control is improved and patients usually regain the classic warning signs of low blood sugar which reduces the risk of severe hypoglycaemic episodes and improves quality of life.

The current service in the Oxford AHSN region requires patients to attend the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. This can be particularly difficult for patients whose hypoglycaemia has resulted in the loss of a driving licence and who are reliant on public transport or family members and for those in full-time work. To improve access to the service, the Oxford AHSN is helping to establish a hub-and-spoke clinic network to enable initial assessment and some follow-ups to be carried out in virtual clinics at peripheral sites, although the procedure will continue to take place in Oxford.

In the first four months of the project there were eight referrals compared with nine referrals over the previous five years – a strong indication of the initial success of the project and need for the service. Read more…

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