Will There Be a Cure for Diabetes? (Continued)
Now the question at hand: Will there be a cure for diabetes? I believe with all my heart and soul that there will one day be one. Having two kids with diabetes, I have been at this for over 19 years. I, like many others, have heard the word cure so many times that it sticks in my throat because of the many who throw it around and, at times, outright lie. So please, forget anything you have heard, and for the next few minutes, continue reading with an open mind.
There are people out there, a good handful in fact, who have type 1, had an islet cell transplant, and actually lived for a time without taking insulin shots because the islet cells were functioning. Many people are being told that islet cell transplantation has failed. But it has shown that a biological means could work. Were the patients on immunosuppressant? Yes they were. Was it a cure? No it was not. If the islet cells functioned without the use of immunosuppressant drugs, you bet it would be a cure. Yes, that is a big if, but they functioned.
Transplantation has shown there are obstacles that need to be overcome, such as a plentiful supply of islets or another insulin producing mechanism; a method greatly curtailing the immunosupression; and the need to make sure that the body does not attack all over again. I challenge you to discuss with those who have had an islet transplant if they would do it over again, and how it felt to not worry about their diabetes for that one night. For some, it worked for two years or more. But it was incomplete.
Did people think it would work forever? I had a conversation with Ken Bernstein, a conversation that will stay burned in my mind forever. He was a few months out from an Islet transplant. I told him he must feel great.
"Tom, I do feel great," he said, and this huge smile came across his face. "But I didn't do this for me. I did this for [my daughter] Kaitlyn and those like her. Do you know how much we will learn through this? This is but a step."
In my car that night, my body shook as I cried. Ken and everyone who received an Islet cell transplant are incredible heroes. "This is but a step."
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