You may know me personally; you may not.
It doesn’t matter.
I have never - and I mean never - asked for money from my friends or family - or strangers - for diabetes. I’ve donated plenty to walks and research institutes and organizations for better care and cures. But I’ve never asked from others.
This is my first time laying it all on the line for something I know will make a difference for every person with Type 1 diabetes, so I’m standing up boldly and asking you to read on.
One hundred years ago, a diagnosis of diabetes was a death sentence.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that create insulin. The cause of the disease is not known and there are no preventative measures.
Unfortunately, despite research and advancements in technology, there is still no cure. I sadly know this all too well. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes thirty-one years ago.
Daily living is a precarious challenge for the over 3 million people with Type 1 diabetes (and their families who love and care for them) in the United States.
Insulin, the drug that keeps people with Type 1 diabetes alive, is dangerous due to the complex dosing calculations to keep blood sugars stable. We self-manage our disease, making decisions each day to the best of our ability.
We are human. We make mistakes.
Too much insulin may cause seizures and unconsciousness without the administration of glucagon, a counter regulatory hormone that raises glucose in the blood. Too little insulin can increase the chances of long-term complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, and nerve damage - and cause comas quickly if no insulin at all is given.
In both extremes, death becomes a sobering and real possibility.
Despite my vigilance, diabetes has done irreparable damage to my body. I am unwilling to let this disease continue to ravage my body – or anyone else’s.
Imagine a medical device that calculates and administers the proper amount of insulin and glucagon without human intervention or guesswork, keeping a diabetic’s blood sugar in “normal” range and eliminating the fears of immediate and long-term complications.
It exists now.
The Bionic Pancreas uses a complex algorithm for insulin and glucagon dosing based on glucose readings taken from a continuous glucose monitor every five minutes - 288 dosing decisions per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. The automatic dosing decision is delivered via insulin/glucagon (bihormonal) pump without the diabetic doing anything.
Created by Dr. Edward Damiano of Boston University and a dedicated team of collaborators from Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University, this revolutionary device has been undergoing successful clinical trials and is expected to receive final FDA approval by 2017. (Dr. Damiano has a personal stake in this: his son, David, has Type 1 diabetes.)
Not only will this device change my life and those with Type 1 diabetes, it will lessen the financial burden on the U.S. economy: in 2012, diabetes accounted for $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.
While private and government support have accelerated the successful clinical trials, funding is needed to build the integrated bihormonal Bionic Pancreas platform that will be used in the final pivotal study of 2016. This new platform is intended for commercial production after FDA approval.
I’ve held the device in my hands. I’ve talked with the clinical participants. I’ve diligently read the research. (And this research, too.)
I know this works.
We need your help to finish the Bionic Pancreas and put it in the hands (and on the bodies) of people like me.
Unlike other requests for donations, your financial support for a medical device that is not in a nebulous research state, but a viable, tangible product will ease the emotional, financial, and physical burden for those living with Type 1 diabetes and their families, employers, and friends.
No. This is not a cure. There may be a cure someday, but until then… I want to have a life without daily high and low blood sugars and the threat of complications looming over me.
Drs. Damiano and Russell have discovered a way for people with diabetes to not just live, but thrive with the Bionic Pancreas.
Your support is needed.
Every dollar you give is tax-deductible and goes directly to The Bionic Pancreas project, not for “administrative fees” or extraneous knick-knacks.
Skip a Starbucks run. Donate $5. Skip two, if you’re so inclined. $10..
Or $20… or $50… or more.
Every dollar means something.
Here’s the link to donate.
You can change my life. You can prevent the heart attacks and kidney disease and complications caused by diabetes. You can allow us - and our families - to live - to thrive, without worry.
You can change our future right now.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end, because that’s what I want.
An end to the challenges of Type 1 diabetes.
Much love and gratitude,
P.S. I won’t know if you donated. That’s not important to me to know how much I raised. It’s not about that. Even if you can’t donate, you can still help. You can help by sharing this post far and wide. Tweet. Facebook. Pintrest. Tumbler. Skywrite.
Please feel free to make the story your own if you or someone you love has Type 1 diabetes and you believe in this project. This is the one time I won’t talk about copyright. This post is for all of us. Help in any way you can.)