• Kyodo

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Doctors at Kyoto University Hospital removed a pancreatic islet cell from a cardiac arrest victim and injected it into the liver of a diabetes patient Wednesday night, the hospital said Thursday.

This is the first transplant of a pancreatic islet cell in Japan, according to the hospital. Transplants of this kind have been done in Europe and the United States, mostly using the pancreases of brain-dead patients.

The donor was a man in his 40s, while the recipient is a woman in her 30s from the Kinki region. The man’s organs were removed after his heart stopped beating.

The hospital hopes the transplant will break the recipient’s daily dependence on insulin injections.

The operation was led by hospital director Koichi Tanaka, starting around 10 p.m. and taking some 20 minutes.

The pancreas makes insulin and enzymes and has clusters of cells called the islets of Langerhans. When transplanted, the beta cells in these islets begin to make and release insulin, according to researchers.

Tanaka made a request for transplants of this kind from heart attack patients as well as transplants involving donors who are close relatives of patients, to the university’s ethics committee, which gave the green light for both in October.

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