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American Family Children's Hospital

Islet Cell Transplant: Julie's Story

"I have a new lease on life. I now know I will be around to see my children graduate from school, and I will see my grandchildren one day."
-Julie underwent Islet Cell Transplantation at UW Hospital in 2005.
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Julie (pictured) underwent islet cell transplantation at UW Hospital in 2005. She recounts the experience in her own words below.
"After 28 years living with Type I diabetes, I developed severe hypoglycemic unawareness that caused hypoglycemic seizures. I lived in constant fear.
"My children were scared for me (and of me) and my husband didn't sleep at night because he was worrying about me and always checking on me. I was not a monster, I was a good wife and mother, but I could be fine one minute, and the next minute my children would be telling me to check my blood sugar because of my erratic behavior.
"I had three accidents due to hypoglycemia, and my family was afraid to get in a car with me. My doctors told me again and again, that it was not a matter of 'if' but a matter of 'when' the hypoglycemic seizures would either cause permanent brain damage, or kill me.
"Then I heard about islet cell transplant. I called UW Hospital and spoke to Nancy, my nurse coordinator, several times. I had a clinical visit with Nancy, Dr. Odorico and Dr. Fernandez in January 2004. They, and the transplant, changed my life. Their care, understanding and expertise in this area is unrivaled. I have never found a single endocrinologist until I met this team who really, really understood what I was going through.
"I have a new lease on life. I no longer live in fear of injuring myself from a seizure or causing injury to others. I am off insulin for the first time in 28 years! I have a freedom I have not experienced in 17 years when the seizures started. I now know I will be around to see my children graduate from school, and I will see my grandchildren one day. I have hopes and dreams I have not dared to think about. I can live for the future for the first time in a long time, and most importantly, my son, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes three years ago, has a possible choice in his future. Should the need arise; there is hope for him to have a better, stronger future. Just like his mom."