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Posts Tagged ‘pancreas’

INTER-SPECIES PANCREAS TRANSPLANT REVERSES DIABETES

In HEALTH AND WELLNESS, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS, VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on February 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Color Rat Laboratory Cage Mammal Rat Rodent Pet

Let’s take a page out of what was not too long ago science fiction; which is now science-fact.

  • A pancreas was grown in a rat,
  • the organ was transplanted into a mouse,
  • the mouse was given immunosuppressive therapy to prevent rejection,
  • the diabetic mice were able to normalize their blood glucose levels for over a year.

This illustrates the long proven regenerative capacity of stem cells and the recent advancements scientists have made with anti-rejection protocols…And of course, the cool inter-species transplant of rat to mouse.

Rat-grown mouse pancreases help reverse diabetes in mice

Growing organs from one species in the body of another may one day relieve transplant shortages. Now researchers show that islets from rat-grown mouse pancreases can reverse disease when transplanted into diabetic mice.

White rat with black patches

A rat in which researchers were able to grow a mouse pancreas. Islets from the pancreases were transplanted into mice with diabetes. The transplants helped control the mice’s blood sugar levels.
Courtesy of the Nakauchi lab

 Mouse pancreases grown in rats generate functional, insulin-producing cells that can reverse diabetes when transplanted into mice with the disease, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo.

The recipient animals required only days of immunosuppressive therapy to prevent rejection of the genetically matched organ rather than lifelong treatment.

The success of the interspecies transplantation suggests that a similar technique could one day be used to generate matched, transplantable human organs in large animals like pigs and sheep.

To conduct the work, the researchers implanted mouse pluripotent stem cells, which can become any cell in the body, into early rat embryos. The rats had been genetically engineered to be unable to develop their own pancreas and were thus forced to rely on the mouse cells for the development of the organ.

Once the rats were born and grown, the researchers transplanted the insulin-producing cells, which cluster together in groups called islets, from the rat-grown pancreases into mice genetically matched to the stem cells that formed the pancreas. These mice had been given a drug to cause them to develop diabetes.

“We found that the diabetic mice were able to normalize their blood glucose levels for over a year after the transplantation of as few as 100 of these islets,” said Hiromitsu Nakauchi, MD, PhD, a professor of genetics at Stanford. “Furthermore, the recipient animals only needed treatment with immunosuppressive drugs for five days after transplantation, rather than the ongoing immunosuppression that would be needed for unmatched organs.”

Nakauchi, who is a member of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, is the senior author of a paper describing the findings, which was published online Jan. 25 in Nature. Tomoyuki Yamaguchi, PhD, an associate professor of stem cell therapy, and researcher Hideyuki Sato, both from the University of Tokyo, share lead authorship of the paper.

Hiro Nakauchi

Although much research remains to be done, scientist Hiromitsu Nakauchi and his colleagues believe their work with rodents shows that a similar technique could one day be used to generate matched, transplantable human organs in large animals like pigs and sheep.
Wing Hon Films

Organs in short supply

About 76,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for an organ transplant, but organs are in short supply. Generating genetically matched human organs in large animals could relieve the shortage and release transplant recipients from the need for lifelong immunosuppression, the researchers say.

People suffering from diabetes could also benefit from this approach. Diabetes is a life-threating metabolic disease in which a person or animal is unable to either make or respond appropriately to insulin, which is a hormone that allows the body to regulate its blood sugar levels in response to meals or fasting. The disease affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and is increasing in prevalence. The transplantation of functional islets from healthy pancreases has been shown to be a potentially viable option to treat diabetes in humans, as long as rejection can be avoided.

The researchers’ current findings come on the heels of a previous study in which they grew rat pancreases in mice. Although the organs appeared functional, they were the size of a normal mouse pancreas rather than a larger rat pancreas. As a result, there were not enough functional islets in the smaller organs to successfully reverse diabetes in rats.

Mouse pancreases grown in rats

In the current study, the researchers swapped the animals’ roles, growing mouse pancreases in rats engineered to lack the organ. The pancreases were able to successfully regulate the rats’ blood sugar levels, indicating they were functioning normally. Rejection of the mouse pancreases by the rats’ immune systems was uncommon because the mouse cells were injected into the rat embryo prior to the development of immune tolerance, which is a period during development when the immune system is trained to recognize its own tissues as “self.” Most of these mouse-derived organs grew to the size expected for a rat pancreas, rendering enough individual islets for transplantation

Next, the researchers transplanted 100 islets from the rat-grown pancreases back into mice with diabetes. Subsequently, these mice were able to successfully control their blood sugar levels for over 370 days, the researchers found.

Because the transplanted islets contained some contaminating rat cells, the researchers treated each recipient mouse with immunosuppressive drugs for five days after transplant. After this time, however, the immunosuppression was stopped.

After about 10 months, the researchers removed the islets from a subset of the mice for inspection.

“We examined them closely for the presence of any rat cells, but we found that the mouse’s immune system had eliminated them,” said Nakauchi. “This is very promising for our hope to transplant human organs grown in animals because it suggests that any contaminating animal cells could be eliminated by the patient’s immune system after transplant.”

Importantly, the researchers also did not see any signs of tumor formation or other abnormalities caused by the pluripotent mouse stem cells that formed the islets. Tumor formation is often a concern when pluripotent stem cells are used in an animal due to the cells’ remarkable developmental plasticity. The researchers believe the lack of any signs of cancer is likely due to the fact that the mouse pluripotent stem cells were guided to generate a pancreas within the developing rat embryo, rather than coaxed to develop into islet cells in the laboratory. The researchers are working on similar animal-to-animal experiments to generate kidneys, livers and lungs.

Although the findings provide proof-of-principle for future work, much research remains to be done. Ethical considerations are also important when human stem cells are transplanted into animal embryos, the researchers acknowledge.

The research was funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, a KAKENHI grant, the Japan Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Network and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Stanford’s Department of Genetics also supported the work.

PANCREATIC CANCER TUMORS DEFEATED WITH CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on June 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

fight pancreatic cancer FPC_shirt


PANCREATIC CANCER TUMORS DEFEATED WITH CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS

What happens when you “genetically engineer MSCs isolated from human umbilical cord blood so that they expressed IL-15” (which fights cancer tumors) and inject them into mice with pancreatic  tumors?

  • The IL-15 migrate to the tumor
  • Other cancer and tumor fighting immune cells migrate to the tumor
  • The IL-15 attack the tumor
  • Other cancer and tumor fighting immune cells attack the tumor
  • Tumors show cell death
  • Tumor growth is significantly inhibited
  • Survival is prolonged
  • The mice immune systems are effectively vaccinated against future tumor growth

Scientists “used these souped-up cells to treat In mice afflicted with pancreatic tumors. Pancreatic cancer is an indiscriminate killer, since by the time it causes any symptoms, it is usually so advanced, that there is little to be done in order to treat it. Thus new strategies to treat this type of cancer are eagerly being sought. Systemic administration of IL-15-expressing MSCs significantly inhibited tumor growth and prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice. The tumors of these mice showed extensive cell death, and other types of immune cells known to fight tumor cells (NK and T cells) had also accumulated around the tumor. Other experiments confirmed that the injected MSCs did indeed migrate toward the tumors and secrete IL-15 at the site of the tumors…Interestingly, those mice that were cured from the pancreatic tumors, appeared to have a kind of resistance of these tumors. Namely, when Fan and his colleagues tried to reintroduce the same tumor cells back into the cured mice, the tumor cells would not grow. Thus the engineered MSCs not only tuned the immune system against the tumor, but they effectively vaccinated the mice against it as well.”

via http://beyondthedish.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/engineered-stem-cels-from-human-umbilical-cord-blood-eradicates-pancreatic-tumor/

 

 

Thanks Squeeky!

mouse-grown-from-stem-cells

STEM CELL THERAPY REVERSES DIABETES

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on January 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

recent-blood-cell-news

“…findings from this study demonstrate the feasibility and safety of Stem Cell Educator therapy and demonstrate that Type 1 Diabetes patients achieve improved metabolic control and reduced autoimmunity that lasts months following a single treatment.”  “…clinical data provide powerful evidence that reversal of autoimmunity leads to regeneration of islet β cells and improvement of metabolic control in long-standing Type 1 Diabetes subjects. This principle may also be beneficial in the treatment of other autoimmune-related diseases.”

Stem Cell Therapy Reverses Diabetes: Stem Cells from Cord Blood Used to Re-Educate Diabetic’s Own T Cells

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking its pancreatic islet beta cells and requires daily injections of insulin to regulate the patient’s blood glucose levels. A new method described in BioMed Central‘s open access journal BMC Medicine uses stem cells from cord blood to re-educate a diabetic’s own T cells and consequently restart pancreatic function reducing the need for insulin.

Stem Cell Educator therapy slowly passes lymphocytes separated from a patient’s blood over immobilized cord blood stem cells (CBSC) from healthy donors. After two to three hours in the device the re-educated lymphocytes are returned to the patient. The progress of the patients was checked at 4, 12, 24 and 40 weeks after therapy.

C-peptide is a protein fragment made as a by-product of insulin manufacture and can be used to determine how well beta cells are working. By 12 weeks after treatment all the patients who received the therapy had improved levels of C-peptide. This continued to improve at 24 weeks and was maintained to the end of the study. This meant that the daily dose of insulin required to maintain their blood glucose levels could be reduced. In accordance with these results the glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) indicator of long term glucose control also dropped for people receiving the treatment, but not the control group.

Dr Yong Zhao, from University of Illinois at Chicago, who led the multi-centre research, explained: “We also saw an improved autoimmune control in these patients. Stem Cell Educator therapy increased the percentage of regulatory T lymphocytes in the blood of people in the treatment group. Other markers of immune function, such as TGF-beta1 also improved. Our results suggest that it is this improvement in autoimmune control, mediated by the autoimmune regulator AIRE in the CBSC, which allows the pancreatic islet beta cells to recover.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012.htm

To view the full research article – http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/3

To view the clinical trial – http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01350219

PANCREAS STEM CELL DISCOVERY

In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on December 17, 2012 at 9:00 am

135a171f529c8c5db6258877dc955397

Professor Len Harrison

A significant step discovered in the fight against Type 1 diabetes.  An Australian team of scientists and researchers led by Dr. Ilia Banakh and Professor Len Harrison have developed a technique to manipulate isolated stem cells for the adult pancreas to become insulin-producing beta cells capable of producing insulin in response to glucose.  “The discovery could bring closer the time when people with type 1 diabetes will be able to produce their own insulin and be free of the multiple daily injections”.

-DG

The discovery was made by scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and provides further evidence that stem cells don’t only occur in the embryo.

The ability to produce the hormone insulin is crucial for controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels.  In people with type 1 diabetes the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, leading to a potentially fatal elevation of blood glucose levels.  People with type 1 diabetes rely on multiple daily injections of insulin, or an insulin infusion pump, to control their blood glucose, but control is not perfect and they are at risk of serious long-term health complications.

Dr Ilia Banakh and Professor Len Harrison from the institute’s Molecular Medicine division have not only identified and isolated stem cells from the adult pancreas, but developed a technique to drive these stem cells to become insulin-producing cells that can secrete insulin in response to glucose.

Professor Harrison said that insulin-producing cells had previously been generated from cells in the adult pancreas with ‘stem cell-like’ properties. “But what Dr Banakh has done is pinpoint the cell of origin of the insulin-producing cells and shown that the number of these cells and their ability to turn into insulin-producing cells increases in response to pancreas injury. This is exciting, because it means that the potential to regenerate insulin-producing cells is there in all of us, even as adults,” Professor Harrison said.

“In the long-term, we hope that people with type 1 diabetes might be able to regenerate their own insulin-producing cells. This would mean that they could make their own insulin and regain control of their blood glucose levels, curing their diabetes. Of course, this strategy will only work if we can devise ways to overcome the immune attack on the insulin-producing cells, that causes diabetes in the first place,” Professor Harrison said.

http://www.wehi.edu.au/uploads/Harrison_PLOS_One_Final.pdf

PANCREATIC STEM CELLS, ONE STEP CLOSER TO A CURE

In SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on December 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

360_diabetes_0413

Millions of people in the United States suffer with type 1 diabetes and are unable to produce sufficient insulin. “As of 2010, 25.8 million people—8.3% of the population—have diabetes; 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older in 2010.” (http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/consumer/research.htm) “… About 27 percent of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have the disease. Pre-diabetes affects 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older. (http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0126_diabetes.html) The potential to transplant insulin-producing cells into patients suffering from Diabetes would be a critical step forward and could offer hope for a long-term cure.
-DG

The potential to one day treat type 1 diabetes using transplants of insulin-producing beta-cells derived from pancreatic progenitors may have just crept a tad closer, if findings by a group of researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) can be verified. The team has identified a cell surface marker on a subpopulation of cells in the pancreas that appears to identify them as pancreatic stem cells (PnSCs), a cell type which has never actually been firmly demonstrated in human or animal tissues.

A current approach to cell replacement therapy for diabetes involves the transplantation of pancreatic islets, which involves numerous transplant procedures. Although it is feasibly possible to derive insulin-producing cells from either human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), there are technical issues which have yet to be solved. What is ideally needed is a source of stem cells derived directly from the pancreas that can readily be prompted to differentiate into the desired cell type.

Research by Alberto Hayek, Ph.D., and colleagues now indicates that human pancreatic ductal cells that express the cell surface stem cell marker stage-specific embryonic antigen 4 (SSEA4) may represent this elusive population of PnSCs that has long been postulated but never quite isolated. The cells, located in the exocrine portion of the adult human pancreas but not inside islets themselves, also express ductal, pancreatic progenitor, and stem cell protein markers. Interestingly, the investigators found that SSEA4-expressing cells isolated from fetal pancreatic tissue additionally express a recognized marker of endocrine progenitor cells.

Notably, when the UCSDF team then isolated adult human pancreatic SSEA4+ cells and cultured them in media containing high levels of glucose and B27 supplements, the cells formed aggregate-like spheres and differentiated readily into pancreatic hormone-expressing cells.
“Accumulated evidence supports the concept that pancreatic stem/progenitor cells may originate in the pancreatic duct, where they reside in a quiescent stage,” the authors remark. “We are first to identify SSEA4+ cells in the adult human pancreas with characteristics of pancreatic progenitors. Further clonal analysis would confirm their stemness…. The discovery of specific markers for the identification and purification of human PnSCs would greatly facilitate studies aimed at the expansion of these cells and the development of targeting tools for their potential induction to insulin-producing cells.

Dr. Hayek et al., report on their findings in BioResearch Open Access, in a paper titled “Is stage-specific embryonic antigen 4 a marker for human ductal/stem/progenitor cells?”

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/pancreatic-stem-cells-could-they-treat-diabetes/81247218/

ADULT Stem Cell Therapy Reverses Diabetes – CBS 42

In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on January 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

ADULT Stem Cell Therapy Reverses Diabetes

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Ivanhoe Newswire)- Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking its pancreatic islet beta cells and requires daily injections of insulin to regulate the patient’s blood glucose levels.

A new method found in the BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine uses stem cells from cord blood to reeducate the T cells in a diabetic’s blood to restart the pancreatic function and reduce the need for insulin. In Stem Cell Educator therapy, lymphocytes were separated from a patient’s blood over immobilized donated cord blood stem cells. After two or three hours in the device the revamped lymphocytes are returned to the patient. Progress was checked at 4, 12, 24 and 40 weeks after therapy.

After 12 weeks results showed an increase in C-peptide levels. C-peptide is a protein fragment created from insulin that can be used to determine how well beta cells are working. Levels increased at 24 weeks and remained the same at the end of the study, meaning that the patient’s daily dose of insulin could be reduced. Also results showed that the glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) indicator of long term glucose control also dropped for people receiving the treatment.

Dr Yong Zhao, from University of Illinois at Chicago, was quoted as saying, “We also saw an improved autoimmune control in these patients. Stem Cell Educator therapy increased the percentage of regulatory T lymphocytes in the blood of people in the treatment group. Other markers of immune function, such as TGF-beta1 also improved. Our results suggest that it is this improvement in autoimmune control, mediated by the autoimmune regulator AIRE in the CBSC, which allows the pancreatic islet beta cells to recover.”

Source: BMC Medicine, January 2012

Stem Cell Therapy Reverses Diabetes – CBS 42 Birmingham, AL News Weather Sports.

Adult Stem Cells – Diabetes type1

In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on June 22, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Great article and great site written by the mother of a boy who had a transplant from his own stem cells (autologous) for Type1 Diabetes and Asperger’s Syndrome! -dg

Diabetes type 1 and the Cure – What I feel Are the Most Promising

I first wanted to hear if from a child’s perspective. Here it goes:

Mom: What do you feel is the cure for diabetes?

Gabriel: What I had done.

Mom: What did you have done?

Gabriel: Stem Cells from my body.

Mom: How do you feel?

Gabriel: Good. I thank God. I just hope that my anteebuddies don’t attack my new cells.

Mom: How about if one day your Endo gives you a sheet of paper and allowed to choose one to cure you. Let’s assume you were given these options. Which one would you choose?

1. Adult stem cell transplant (what you had done)

2. Artificial pancreas

3. Islet Cell Transplantation from a donor pancreas

4. Islet Sheet

5. Pig Islet Cell Transplant

6. Stem Cell Therapy Drug(from donor) via injections

I explained the above in child’s terminology.

Gabriel: I like #1. What I had done. I know what to expect and it didn’t hurt and it was safe. I am doing well.

Mom: Why not the others?

Gabriel: I don’t know about pigs in my body. I may become one. I don’t get it. I don’t want # 2 because I already wear an insulin pump and I don’t want more things on my body. I am full of holes and this is really not the cure. It’s just something better than the pump. I don’t know about the others.

Mom: How about #6.

Gabriel: It’s something like #1, but it’s from other people’s body not my own. I want my own body to go back into my body. Why can’t they do #6 with the person’s own body? Oh, on #4…..I don’t know if that sheet will melt or pop inside my body. Do I need to go back and get a new one? how do they get the sheet inside my body? Mommy, remember when we travel and we go through those bars at the airport and I take off my pump? Would the sheet inside my body make the security bar ring? and then I cannot take it off. How about when I go to the doctor and get X-rays will it explode the sheet? I don’t think I like #4.

Mom: Good questions and I don’t know the answer. I’m assuming it will be fine.

Mom: So, what are you going to do when you are cured?

Gabriel: I will close my eyes and look at the sky and raise my hands up really really high and thank God for no more insulin, no more counting carbs, no more backpack wherever I go! And then, and then, ummmm… I will have a bubble gum party. Yes! I will have a bubble gum party!

Mom: Who are you going to invite to the bubble gum party?

Gabriel: Everyone that wants to come.

Mom: Who will pay this big party?

Gabriel: hmmmmm..You and Dad. Maybe JDRF.

via Adult Stem Cells – Diabetes type1.

Research confirms presence of stem cells in human milk

In ALL ARTICLES on May 26, 2010 at 3:14 am

Research confirms presence of stem cells in human milk

Reporter
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 AT 12:00 AM (IST)

PUNE: Gynaecologist and infertility specialist Dr Satish Patki from Kolhapur and technical director, Stempeutics Research, Malaysia and senior scientist, National Centre for Cell Science Pune, Dr Ramesh Bhonde have collaborated on a research in which they have demonstrated the presence of stem cells in human milk.

They have also documented for the first time in literature the potential of these stem cells, isolated from human milk to differentiate into various other types of cells like insulin producing cells of pancreas, bone cells etc.

“We are floating stem cells derived from breast milk as a drug for neonatal diseases like sepsis, respiratory diseases and others, which lead to infant mortality. Oral stem cell therapy only works in the case of infants. The stem cells from mother’s milk can be cultured and stored in stem cell banks,” said Dr Bhonde…

via Sakaal Times.

Double transplant for type 1 diabetes brings troubles, gifts

In ALL ARTICLES on January 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Double transplant for type 1 diabetes brings troubles, gifts
Updated 1/11/2010 12:05 PM ET    E-mail | Save | Print

Enlarge    By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY

Immersing himself in a hot bath while taking anti-nausea pills brings Scott Bowles some relief from cyclic vomiting syndrome.

By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

Ten years ago Tuesday, USA TODAY’s Scott Bowles had a kidney and pancreas transplant to treat his juvenile diabetes. He kept a journal of the experience, which ran as a series in the newspaper and in his book, The Needle and the Damage Done. Bowles, 44, a film reporter in Los Angeles, looks back at the decade and life after the surgery.

Albuquerque, April 7, 2009
Denzel Washington is going to have to wait.
The star is on a nearby stage, rehearsing

But I’m not going to make it. I’m on the floor of a publicist’s darkened office, on my back, trying to slow my breathing and fight off the nausea and heart palpitations that are racking my body.
READ MORE: Type 1 diabetes’ effect on daily life
Again.

It has been 10 years since I opted to treat my diabetes with a kidney and pancreas transplant, a decision that, for the first time, I’m beginning to question.

I find myself on a hospital gurney with frightening regularity lately. Where once I was going to the hospital every six to eight months, now I’m there every six to eight weeks. My weight is down to 139, lighter than I was in college. Three days without nausea or a racing heart feels like a good stretch of health.

More frightening, doctors aren’t sure how to keep my body from breaking down. They’ve diagnosed me with two post-transplant illnesses: cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) and atrial fibrillation. CVS is a powerful wave of nausea that hits without warning and can last hours, leaving me heaving long after my stomach is empty.
The nausea depletes me of electrolytes and minerals, which sends my body into the more dangerous complication: atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart pumps twice as fast as normal but circulates only 60% of the blood, raising the risk of a blood clot and stroke.

Today, I’m in the throes of both complications. I’m rushed to New Mexico University Hospital, where nurses are having trouble finding a vein. I’ve had so many blood draws over the decade that my veins have scarred and it’s difficult to find one that’s usable.

They try two sticks in the left arm. No luck. One in the right. Same result.
A nurse suggests mining my neck. I close my eyes: This is the one place I thoroughly feel the needle. The vein works all right; it’s dashing us both in arterial spray, too much for her to secure an intravenous tube. Finally, she sinks the needle between the fingers of my right hand and finds a vein.
After a bit, I feel the medications open my lungs and nudge me toward sleep.
But not before I think to myself: I can’t keep doing this.

Los Angeles, July 14
My doctor for the past 10 years, Michael Brousseau, has me in his office. My mother is here, too. She has traveled from Atlanta to meet with physicians and brainstorm.

Brousseau is frustrated. I’m on a dozen anti-nausea medications — some of them designed for cancer patients on chemotherapy — yet nothing works with consistency.
He connects me with two more specialists, who will focus on my stomach and heart. “Something has to work,” he says. “Because right now, you’re not functional.”

The words throw me. I had this surgery Jan. 12, 2000, as a salvo against the disease, which over 20 years claimed both kidneys, one-third of my sight and almost all hope that I’d reach 50 with my vision and limbs intact.
And for five years, it seemed, the transplant was the solution. To this day I’ve had no rejection episodes and not a drop of insulin.

But the new complications are frighteningly quick and forceful. I was never staggered by an insulin reaction or high blood sugar as I am by these side effects.

We drive home, and I excuse myself to the bathroom. I run a hot bath (the one treatment that seems to settle my nausea) and turn up the radio so Mom can’t hear me lose my composure in the tub.
Maybe I don’t beat my body’s demons. Maybe I already was as healthy as I’m ever going to be.

July 16
Mom and I are walking through the mall when I lose my balance. The new medications are interacting poorly, leaving my head swimming and my legs unreliable. I flop in a mall seat while Mom goes for something to drink.
A woman who has been watching from a nearby bench walks toward me. She holds a package of gum and offers me a piece.

I’m not sure how to respond, so I take it and thank her. She shakes her head — she doesn’t speak English — but smiles and offers another piece.
The gum does nothing, the gesture everything. By the time Mom is back, I’m already feeling better, energized by the random kindness of the woman, who nods and smiles as Mom and I pad off.
This disease can offer such odd, sweet consolation prizes.

Sept. 16
A nurse calls me at home, the first time I’ve heard from my insurance company unsolicited.
“It appears you’ve been having some complications of late,” she says. “Is there anything we can do?”
I’m cautious. I’m getting two dozen bills, letters from hospitals and benefits explanations every month now, and I must be signaling a red flag with the insurance company. My anti-rejection drugs have jumped from $1,200 a year to $2,800. And that doesn’t include hospital stays, ER visits or nausea medications that run $150 a week.
No, thank you, I tell her. We have specialists working on it.

She presses a little more, asking for some details of my recent hospitalizations. She gently asks whether this is a new problem or something “that might have been pre-existing.”
I freeze. I know what that phrase means. It means you’ve become too expensive to keep healthy. No, I say flatly before getting off the phone, it’s a new problem.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to lie. This is new. I could use help. But I’m not sure she’s offering it, and I would have told her my nose wasn’t a pre-existing condition if my insurance were at stake.

Nov. 1
My good friend Jocelyn Smith is visiting when I feel my hands and feet go numb — the surest signal I’m headed into atrial fibrillation.

Without a word, she jumps into action. She eases me into her car, drives me to the hospital and gives the doctors the rundown on my medications and symptoms. She stays the duration of the six-hour wait for a bed.
Somehow, this trip to the hospital is easier than the others.

Maybe it’s seeing Jocelyn oversee the chaos like a M.A.S.H. nurse. I’ve watched as my friends and family turn into a team of first responders: paramedics, doctors, ambulance drivers. All without asking or asking anything in return.
Not that there’s any way to repay what they’ve given me.

Dec. 11
I’m beginning to understand how dogs improve and lengthen the lives of the elderly. Mine are making this place more homey.

When I’m ill in the bath, I notice, they quit roaming the house and cram into the bathroom. My golden retriever, Teddy, curls up by the tub. Esmé, a diminutive Boston terrier who acts as his orbiting moon, nestles into his belly.
I don’t want to be that crazy dog guy, but I’m convinced their company helps. It’s comforting to reach over the tub and bury my hands into that warm, tangled fur pile, something that could have sprung from Where the Wild Things Are.

I’ve read the studies that say domestic animals have learned over the years to befriend humans to maximize food and shelter from us.
But I prefer to think they can’t stand the thought of me being alone or sick.

Dec. 25
This could be a strange Christmas. Because the nausea and A-fib can strike so suddenly, I can’t risk being on a plane for five hours to visit my family in Atlanta. This will be the first Christmas I don’t make it home for some part of the holiday season.

I wake up ready to dread the day, but my body has surprised me. No nausea, no heart-skipping.
I decide to spend the day visiting people dear to me: Anthony Breznican, who cooks for me more than I do; Luz Elena Avitia, who has become a surrogate parent to my dogs when I’m sick; and Michael Ingram, an old friend who offered me one of his kidneys 10 years ago.

The trip isn’t without risk. Luz and Michael are in San Diego, and the complete drive will take at least five hours — as long as a flight.
But I’m tired of my body caging me. I stuff a few meds in my jeans and hit the road.
The day flies. Everyone is in good spirits, my heart is behaving and by the time I’m driving back, I’ve forgotten how long I’d gone without a moment of nausea.

When I get home, I realize that I haven’t opened any presents under the tree. I know it’s corny, but this Christmas — filled only with people I love — has a Seuss-ian feel to it. I go to bed without touching a gift. I’ll do that tomorrow.
Tonight, I’d like to remain that Who in Whoville.

Jan. 9, 2010
Tuesday marks what I consider my 10th birthday: the day I received my organs.

It also marks the day Valerie and Leroy Flegel took their 21-year-old son, Samuel, off life support.
I have trouble reconciling this. How does that much despair create that much hope?

Samuel was, by all accounts, an extraordinary young man. Born with a learning disability similar to dyslexia, he overcame it to earn his GED and become an engineer for Red River Valley and Western Railroad in Wahpeton, N.D.
He was riding home from a New Year’s party in Fargo in 2000 when he hit a parking lot abutment hidden in snow. By the time police found him, he was brain-dead, though the subzero temperatures kept his body alive.
Now I carry him.

For some reason, I rarely get sick around the anniversary date, and this time is no different. I wake up hungry, energized. Healthy. I hop in the car and drive for a doughnut, something I could never have eaten as a diabetic.
On the drive back, I’m a little angry at myself for being so self-pitying, for questioning this fight. There is no beating diabetes, just changing the complications. But at least I have a chance for better health, something Samuel never got.

And perhaps more than any other anniversary, this one reminds me that I do not fight alone. Through all this, friends have become family and family has become closer than it has ever been. Strangers have offered whatever they have. I think of them and it propels me, literally.
I am awake now, opening up the accelerator as I drive home. Music rattles the windows of the car. I don’t want the drive to end.

I speed past the exit for my house. The morning is bleeding into afternoon, and it’s too warm, too nice to stop moving. I’m going to drive until I run out of gas.
For every day I spend sick or in a hospital, it seems, I receive one that is equally fine. That’s where I discovered the unexpected gift of diabetes, one that I would never return: the capacity to recognize and enjoy the moment.
A nausea-free morning. A symptom-free afternoon. A good day.
Like this one.

DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH 16 PART SPECIAL SERIES

In ALL ARTICLES on November 5, 2009 at 11:24 pm

DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH 16 PART SPECIAL SERIES ON:

“THE DIABETES PANDEMIC – An inconvenient Truth”

by Don Margolis, Founder, Repair Stem Cell Institute

[ CLICK HERE TO READ ]

* Part 1 of 16: THE GROWING PANDEMIC
Errata?

* Part 2 of 16: REFINED WHEAT DEFINED
Refined Wheat

* Part 3 of 16: HOW SWEET IT IS (NOT)
Refined Sugar, The Sweetest Poison of All

* Part 4 of 16: MODERN FOOD = MODERN ALCHEMY
Why McDonald’s Fries Taste So Good

* Part 5 of 16: DO YOU (REALLY) WANT FRIES WITH THAT?
California Wants to Serve a Warning With Fries

* Part 6 of 16: SUGAR CAUSES DENTAL DECAY & DISEASE
Sugar and Science

* Part 7 of 16: MEXICAN OBESITY
Mexico Pushes National Campaign to Lose Weight

* Part 8 of 16: MEXICAN DIABETES
Mexico warns diabetes may bankrupt health system

* Part 9 of 16: THE CIGARETTE CONNECTION
From the list of 599 approved cigarette additives

* Part 10 of 16: ADA REQUESTS MORE FUNDING TO FIGHT DIABETES
American Diabetes Association Urges Congress to Increase CDC Diabetes Prevention Funding By $20.8 Million: One Dollar for Every American With Diabetes

* Part 11 of 16: THE PANDEMIC…TOMORROW
Effect of current factor 1.035 annual increase in WHO diabetes prevalence

* Part 12 of 16: LEARNING FROM DIABETIC MICE
Mouse study points researchers toward early trigger for type-1 diabetes

* Part 13 of 16: THE COST OF THE PANDEMIC
Effect of 1.04 annual increase of USA diabetes prevalence coupled with 6% annual medical inflation rate for care and medical costs per diabetic combined

* Part 14 of 16: SPANISH DIABETES REFORM
Why Spain leads the world in fighting obesity and diabetes

* Part 15 of 16: YOUR PLASTIC IS KILLING YOU
Higher urinary levels of chemical used in plastic food and beverage containers associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes

* Part 16 of 16: INSULIN AND DIABETES
War On Diabetes

[ CLICK HERE TO READ ]

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