Emily - pancreas islet recipient - VIC
As a teenager, Emily was living her dream. A fit and healthy 15-year-old, Emily moved to London to train as a classical ballet dancer, until a shock Type 1 diabetes diagnosis changed everything.
“Having diabetes as a ballet dancer was insanely difficult to manage,” Emily recalls.
Emily returned home to Australia where she spent many years managing her condition with medication, insulin injections, and an insulin pump.
It wasn’t until her early 40s that Emily’s Endocrinologist suggested she could be a candidate for pancreas islet cell transplantation to treat her diabetes. At the time, a research program had demonstrated that islet cell transplantation could lower or remove the need for insulin injections and stop hypoglycaemic episodes altogether.
Islet transplantation involves taking the insulin-producing cells (islets) from the pancreas of a deceased donor and infusing them into the recipient.
In 2015, Emily underwent two islet cell transplants, six months apart. The first was unsuccessful, however, after the second successful islet cell transplant, Emily no longer required insulin injections and her life improved dramatically.
Emily is forever grateful to the person that registered their decision to become a tissue donor, and the donor family who, with grace and courage, consented to their loved one’s decision.
“Someone had been very brave,” says Emily. “My two donors and their families’ decisions weighed heavily on me, and I have thought about them a lot,” she says.
“I’m humbled and grateful for the decision they made. It means my quality of life has improved greatly.”