"I want to say it was three days after the surgery before it all hit me what was going on," said Porfirio. "It's amazing that they could do something like that."
Said Walter Reed's Shriver: "We sort of made this up on the fly. It took three people with strong expertise to come up with this plan on Thanksgiving eve, and six technologists willing to give up their time to help a wounded warrior. Seeing Tre alive now and getting well is really the payoff."
Remarkably, Porfirio's blood sugar levels are now normal and he doesn't require any insulin therapy. He still has several more surgeries to go, according to Shriver, in addition to the 15 major procedures he's also had to reconstruct other areas of his abdomen.
In March, Porfirio was back in the hospital for a much happier occasion, the birth of his first son.
And the improvised transplant procedure may one day lead to a new treatment approach that might "prevent diabetes and secondary complications if even a small portion of [the] pancreas can be salvaged," the doctors wrote in the journal.
For more on Tre Porfirio's story, watch this video from the Diabetes Research Institute.
SOURCES: Craig D. Shriver, M.D., colonel, chief, general surgery, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington D.C.; Rahul Jindal, M.D., Ph.D., transplant surgeon, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington D.C.; Tre Porfirio, Senior Airman, U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Base, Ohio; Camillo Ricordi, M.D., chief, division of cellular transplantation, and chief academic officer, Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Fla.; April 22, 2010, New
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