Can you live without your pancreas, and if so what ...

Can you live without your pancreas, and if so what are the complications that ensue after your pancreas is removed

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That's a good question.  I'll give you a short answer:  Years ago, a patient without a pancreas could not survive (mainly because of severe diabetes and not being able to digest food).  However today patients can function without a pancreas and even live a reasonable normal lives (True, they will have to  take daily injections of insulin and pills that contain digestive enzymes for the rest of their lives).  Please don't forget that they have another option: pancreas transplantation.
Best regards,
Love is the battery of life....


I'm living without my pancreas, spleen and gall bladder, all removed in one 7 hour procedure in January 2004.  All this became necessary due to a rare condition, mucinous duct ectasia (of the pancreas).

My quality of life has improved constantly since the procedure, assisted greatly when I changed to using an insulin pump.  The enzymes need to be taken any time I eat, otherwise its apparent at the next bowel movement.  I am able to eat almost anything as long as I count the carbs (so I know how much insulin to take).  The diabetes is definitely the worst side effect of the surgery, fortunately the research into diabetes and its treatments is well funded.  The strongest reccommendation, from all my health carers to avoid the complications from diabetes (which can be aweful), was to eat mostly healthy whole foods and have a regular excercise routine.  I'm pleased to report that they have been correct and as a result I have been able to live a reasonable, normal life.

Best Wishes 



Of course you can and very well.  Insulin in some form, injections or pump, and digestive enzymes with food are necessary, but it sure beats dying.

It sure does beat dying.  I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in Dec 07. My entire pancrease had to be removed. Luckily nothing had spread to other organs or lympnodes.  I am on my 2nd last week of chemo, which has been hell for me with the side affects.  But I am alive and at times I cant beleive it.  Good luck to all who suffer from this.  Hang in there and just do what you have to do.....

Jonathan is wrong, you certainly can live without a pancreas. Similar to “happy to be alive” I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in Dec’07. I had the whipple operation Jan’08 and my Pancreas, Gallbladder, and duodenum were all removed. I was also Stage One as the cancer did not spread past my Pancreas (I hope). I’ve completed chemo and radiation about a month ago and starting to feel better now. The strange thing is that I am still not a diabetic (my blood sugar is averaging 85) and I do not take any insulin. Is anyone else living without a Pancreas and not diabetic?       

Bob, it's amazing your blood sugars are so stable. By the way, yes Jonathan is wrong. I took care of someone without a pancreas. I will tell you her case she was a brittle diabetic - her blood sugar could go from exteremely low to extremely high in a New York minute. She was rather young and very time consuming. I only say this because she lives in a long term care setting. This means the nurse is also responsible for anywhere from 30 to 60 other patients who are also there for a reason. Back to the subject...time consuming in a way that it seemed that she continuously needed her blood sugar checked and she resisted it as it was probably getting to her getting her finger picked like that so often. But she would be symptomatic, she was a full code, and her eating habits were what she chose and sometimes it was nothing at all. But, yes, you can live without a pancreas as evidenced by this.

Charter member of S.N.O.T.S. Smokey Snotsbear

Yes, you can. Evidence:

Peter O'Toole, had his removed in 1975 and is still going strong, some 33 years later.


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