The kids have returned to school, there is a little chill in the evening air, and Austin has just celebrated his 17th birthday, so it must be nearing time for the annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. When Austin was diagnosed with T1D eleven years ago, he seemed so small and fragile and in need of my vigilant care. Even though he is now 6'3" and is as strong as can be, we were reminded this year just how much he still does need constant vigilant care.
We had organized a lovely family adventure vacation in Costa Rica over Easter break, and on the first day there, Austin became dreadfully ill with food poisoning. At the moment we began to realize what was happening, his blood sugar dropped to dangerously low levels and he began to vomit. Knowing we had to prevent his blood sugar from continuing to plummet, we moved into emergency mode, with Jon and Alexander running down the beach back to the hotel for the emergency shot of glucagon. I am not exaggerating when I say that we might have lost him were it not for that glucagon. Back at the hotel Austin was hooked up to an IV and the following day he was transferred to a hospital 4 hours away by ambulance.
Everything gets more complicated when you have diabetes. A simple case of food poisoning landed Austin in the hospital for 3 days as he fought not only the bacteria but also the diabetic problems of ketones and unstable blood sugars. Even once we returned home it took him a further 2 weeks to improve enough to return to school.
I am so thankful for all of you who have supported Austin and our quest for a cure over these past 11 years. Let me tell you your investment has really paid off! What Austin so desperately needed that day on the beach was a smarter, faster insulin. One that was fast enough to get in and out of his system in 1 hour. Or one that was smart enough to only be released into his system if it was needed. JDRF has been working on developing just such an insulin. The research we funded was picked up by Merck 3 years ago and is now in the clinical trial stage.
Your generous gifts are also funding our Artificial Pancreas Project, which was just an idea in 2006, and is now a reality in 40 countries around the world! We have lobbied very hard with our FDA for approval and are confident that this very system that is manufactured in the USA will soon become available to Americans like Austin. The second generation artificial pancreas, which will enable an insulin pump to "think" enough to treat to a range of blood sugars, is in clinical trials right now. One of Alicia's friends, the daughter of my fellow JDRF Board member is actually in this trial at UVA!
And in our Cure portfolio of research, your generous donations are funding our work in Encapsulation. Knowing how difficult it is to rewire the entire immune system, JDRF is funding the development of a permeable, protective barrier to encapsulate newly created beta cells to hide them from the immune system. This device is implanted under the skin and will provide insulin independence for 18 months to 2 years. This device is also in clinical trials and should be available in the next several years.
None of this exciting research could be possible without the generous support of all of you who want to help us Strike Out Diabetes! On Sunday October 27 we will once again storm the Art Museum Steps to show our support for Austin and all those who live with T1D. We would be so grateful for your support and gifts to Strike Out Diabetes-Team Austin! The Walk begins at 9:30 with the 5K Run beginning at 8:30. You can register for both events on this site. Thank you for your help and hope to see you on Oct 27!