Once-in-a-generation surgery gives teenager Emmy a fresh start

Emmy Reeves was a type 1 diabetic with an allergy to insulin injections. To give her a chance at an insulin-free life, a University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital team performed a rare pediatric pancreas transplant.

“Are you ready for this?” Tiffanie Reeves asked her husband, Jack. 

It’s 3 a.m. in the morning on Feb. 9, 2018. Tiffanie and Jack are roughly 1,200 miles apart: She is at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, sitting opposite Transplant Surgeon Raja Kandaswamy, MD. He is back home, in South Carolina. Tiffanie and Kandaswamy lean over a phone.

“Jack, I think we are going to go ahead. The organ looks good,” Kandaswamy said.

With those words, a 210-day wait came to an end. That’s how long Tiffanie and Jack’s daughter, Emmy, had been on the transplant list, waiting for a donor pancreas to become available. The moment was incredibly powerful for 12-year-old Emmy and her parents, but it’s also momentous in another way: Emmy became the youngest person in the United States to undergo a pediatric pancreas transplant of this kind in nearly 25 years.

For more than 20 years, the close relationship between Fairview and the University of Minnesota has given patients like Emmy Reeves access to the most specialized care, provided by the brightest minds in medicine.  Read Emmy’s full story. 

University of Minnesota Health represents a partnership between University of Minnesota Physicians and University of Minnesota Medical Center. Together, we partner to provide leading-edge care for patients at many different locations.

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