Emory patients celebrate 10 years of being diabetes-free, thanks to pancreatic islet cell transplants

Two patients from Emory University School of Medicine celebrated a huge milestone recently – 10 years of being diabetes-free after receiving transplants of donor pancreatic islet cells.

Rob Allen and Laura Cochran were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in their early adult years. Allen struggled with severe weight loss, fatigue, and other diabetic-related complications for years. Smilarly, Cochran developed hypoglycemia unawareness after her diagnosis at age 27, where her blood sugar dropped so quickly in certain instances that she couldn't detect the problem fast enough.

"As a mother of four, I had several severe hypoglycemia incidents while with my children, and that was scary," Cochran said.

The trial that changed their lives

Allen and Cochran were both candidates for Emory's clinical trial on islet cell transplantation for people with type 1 diabetes.

In patients who have the condition, the pancreas stops producing insulin, which happens when pancreatic islet cells no longer make the hormone.

"Through a small incision in the abdomen, we placed an IV into the vein going to the liver," said Christian Larsen, M.D., DPhil, professor of surgery in the Division of Transplantation at Emory, and dean of Emory University School of Medicine. "Then using a slow-drip method, we infused hundreds of thousands of donor islet cells into the patient. Those islets made their way from the liver to the pancreas to restore insulin production."

The end of daily injections

The two patients both received two transplants from two different organ donors over the course of several months. After the second transplant, Allen and Cochran no longer needed daily insulin injections – and the two have been insulin-free since 2004.

"The best part about the islet cell transplants is not having to worry daily about my blood glucose levels getting out of control," Allen said. "It has been an amazing thing."

Doctors at Emory have performed the transplant procedure on 19 patients in four different clinical trials. But since islet cell transplant surgery is still considered experimental, the researchers are waiting on FDA approval of the procedure so they can perform it on more people.

"We transplanted just two teaspoons of islet cells into these patients 10 years ago, and they no longer need insulin injections," Larsen, who is a kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon, said of Allen and Cochran. "This has been a miraculous transformation."

Source: Emory
Photo credit: renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to BattleDiabetes.com who, in addition to 3rd party partners, may contact you with updates, products and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy and terms and conditions.

More Articles

More Articles

Scientists have discovered that a single gene forms a common link between type 2 diabetes and...

Natural supplements like cinnamon extract and apple cider vinegar could hold the key to lowering blood sugar levels, according to a recent...

Natural supplements like cinnamon extract and apple cider vinegar could hold the key to lowering blood sugar levels, according to a recent...

Could a person's risk for type 2 diabetes be written in their genes?

According to a study recently published in ...

Women who frequently shift around their sleeping hours could have worse metabolic health outcomes than their peers who stick with a...

The presence of the hormone leptin may hinder prenatal development, which could explain the origin of type 2 diabetes, according to...

An analysis of fossilized Native American feces shows that our ancestors ate up to sixteen times the fiber that we do today, but our...

Managing diabetes is hugely challenging for people of any age, but a new study suggests that young people may suffer all the more....

Disruptions to the gut’s ecosystem could be a future symptom facing young children who take antibiotics, which makes them more susceptible...

Breastfeeding a newborn holds many benefits for mommy and baby; it reduces the baby's risk for colds and viruses, it helps his bones (and yours)...

Fans of the Dexcom G5 Mobile have something to smile about.

At yesterday's hearing with the U.S. Food and Drug...

If you start your day with a cup of tea and end it with a glass of red wine, your blood sugar may thank you.

At least that...

As medical experts continue to debate whether or not "healthy obesity" can even exist, one new study suggests that risk for heart disease...

For years, type 1 diabetics have been anxiously waiting for that medical marvel that can stop the constant injections: the artificial...

“Low-fat” has been the battle cry of the health-conscious for over ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌...