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

It's been 10 years since two Emory patients entered into a clinical trial for their Type 1 diabetes and experienced exceptional outcomes. Today, the Emory Transplant Center celebrated their 10-year anniversary of being diabetes-free, thanks to a unique transplant of donor pancreatic islet cells.

Pancreatic islet cells are tiny clusters of cells scattered throughout the pancreas that produce the hormone, insulin. In patients who have Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. Therefore, Type 1 diabetics must take insulin every day to live.

Both Rob Allen and Laura Cochran have struggled with diabetic highs and lows for years. Allen was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 17, after severe weight loss, extreme fatigue and an unquenchable thirst. He was able to manage the diabetes with insulin injections for about 10 years until he began having frequent and more serious diabetic episodes involving low blood sugar. An insulin pump helped some, then he heard about the islet cell transplant clinical trial at Emory.

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