Islet therapy transformed my life, says woman with type 1 diabetes

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 04 Sep 2018
Islet therapy transformed my life, says woman with type 1 diabetes
A woman with type 1 diabetes has spoken about how innovative transplant therapy has turned her life around.

Kathryn Hand, from Kirkcaldy, received islet cell transplantation in December 2016. The procedure involves taking islet cells from the pancreas of one or more deceased donors and implanting them into the person with type 1 diabetes.

She is one of 51 people in Scotland with the condition to have benefitted from the therapy since the first procedure took place in 2011 at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The transplant can significantly reduce the risk of severe hypoglycemia, improve hypo awareness and reduce blood sugar variability.

Kathryn was eager to undergo the therapy as she was forced to check her blood sugar levels up to 15 times a day.

Speaking to The National newspaper, the 51-year-old said: "I also had no awareness of when I was going to go into hypoglycemia, which was a constant worry. My husband was terrified of leaving me alone for long periods of time, especially when he was working night shifts.

"Since the transplant, that daily worry about my blood sugar dropping or the amount of insulin I have to take has gone, which is just incredible. I'll never stop being grateful to the person who made the normality I now have possible."

Kathryn has spoken about her experience as part of Organ Donation Week. As part of the campaign Public Health Minister, Joe FitzPatrick is keen to raise awareness of how organ donation can change lives.

Mr FitzPatrick said: "It's vital we continue to raise importance of the need for families to talk about organ and tissue donation. Not only is it life-saving, but as Kathryn's story highlights, it can be life-changing."

John Casey, clinical adviser for organ transplantation in Scotland, said: "This is an important step in the treatment of diabetes in Scotland. We need more people to sign up to the NHS organ donor register so that more lives can be saved and turned around."
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