Islet Transplant Laboratory

Islet cell transplant is an innovative therapy that has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of type 1 diabetes. We have demonstrated that a life without insulin injections is possible, and the procedure is a significant first step toward improving the quality of life of patients living with type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas

Director of Pancreas and Islet Transplant Program, MUHC

The Challenge

Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis. The illness cannot be prevented and living with the disease can be a constant battle as it requires lifelong monitoring of blood sugar along with daily insulin injections, making regular day-to-day tasks such as planning a meal or even doing basic exercise a challenge. If left untreated, type 1 diabetes can cause serious complications including blindness, stroke, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

With the complications of type 1 diabetes continuing to plague more and more Canadians and rising costs related to properly monitoring the illness, there is now an even greater need to provide better access to new and innovative treatments that will improve the personal management of type 1 diabetes and help to reduce the possibility of complications and the burden on our healthcare system.

The Solution

muhc-foundation-dr-steven-paraskevas-islet-transplant-lab-200x300The MUHC’s Islet Transplant Laboratory has been working to improve the quality of life of patients living with type 1 diabetes and it specializes in the research and transplant of islet cells, a cutting-edge procedure that restores the body’s ability to produce its own insulin. Developed as an alternative to a pancreas transplant, which carries significant risks and often involves extended time in the Intensive Care Unit, islet transplant begins with islet cells being separated and isolated from a donor pancreas, a procedure that requires years of investment in technology and medical expertise. Once isolated, the islets can then be infused into a patient’s liver through a small catheter in the abdomen, without the need for surgery. This minimally invasive procedure has greatly improved the patient experience as there is less risk of infection and an improved recovery time.

The MUHC has been developing the expertise to conduct this procedure for the past decade, and it is the only centre in eastern Canada and one of only a dozen in North America capable of isolating and transplanting human islet cells. The MUHC conducted the first islet cell transplant in Quebec and in order to remain at the forefront of islet transplant, it must:

  • Conduct research that will refine the islet cell transplant procedure so it becomes a viable treatment for more patients suffering from type 1 diabetes in Canada
  • Purchase the latest medical equipment to improve the transplant procedure by maximizing the amount of islet cells that can be isolated and infused thereby increasing success rates
  • Recruit the best talent to ensure that patients are benefitting from the latest islet transplant research and treatment right here at home
  • Improve patient outcomes by providing a safer and non-invasive procedure that decreases hospital stays and reduces risk
  • Establish an islet cell network so other healthcare facilities can perform islet cell transplant, increasing the number of patients who could benefit from the procedure

How you can help

We are raising $1 million to support the needs of the MUHC’s Islet Transplant Laboratory.

You can donate online, download our donation form or call us at 514-843-1543.

Follow Us

An wonderful message from physician and astronaut Dr. Dave Williams. Merci, Dr Williams, pour vos paroles inspirantes de soutien au Centre universitaire de santé McGill - McGill University Health Centre ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Community leaders continue to come together to combat COVID-19! The Alliance des Associations chinoises du Québec and the Montréal Shanghainese Association rallied support from hundreds of their association members, both here at home and abroad. Their fundraising efforts were successful, and they made a joint gift of $21,323 to the MUHC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund. They also made a donation of PPE.

Nous remercions Messieurs Shen et Zhao pour leur initiative communautaire et leur collaboration visant à appuyer les travailleurs de la santé et les chercheurs qui sont sur la ligne de front de la lutte contre la COVID-19! 🌈👏
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

What a touching story shining a spotlight on the work of the MUHC's occupational therapists. Kendra's message highlighting the work of her collegue Jaclyn truly showcases how MUHC Champions and #HospitalHeroes are tackling the current crisis with poise, perseverance, compassion, and team work! All to provide the best care for patients and their families. 👏❤️ ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Sign up to learn more

We'll send you updates on the world-class doctors and researchers transforming patient care at the MUHC, share important health and wellness tips, and demonstrate how we are impacting healthcare for you, and for those you love.

You have successfully subscribed!