Dave Thooen - Welcome to my Personal Page
Thank you for visiting my fundraising page!
It was over 32 years ago when my life changed forever. Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) as a young adult was not what I was expected, needed, or wanted. My life quickly changed to structured meals, insulin injections, syringes, counting carbohydrates, carrying food, blood glucose testing, quarterly endocrinologist visits, and many other activities common for anyone with T1D. This was not in my life plan!
Over the years, while avoiding the terrible complications such as blindness, kidney failure, limb amputations, heart disease, etc., I did develop a complication that affects 15% - 20% of people with T1D called hypoglycemia unawareness, or the inability to detect a low blood sugar. The warning signs indicating a low blood sugar, sweating, shaking, and blurry vision, no longer existed in me. This was disastrous, as many nights I didn’t wake up and drifted into a seizure, I passed out in public many times, I put myself in dangerous situations, and many times wondered “how did I survive that?”
I heard of a clinical trial at the University of Minnesota that claimed could eliminate hypoglycemia unawareness. In a decision that was agreed upon by my family, I applied, and became one of thousands who wanted to get in for the few open spots. After months of testing, and almost being eliminated several times due to very strict qualifications, I made it through to the islet transplant list. I was one of a handful of applicants, among the thousands, who as actually chosen.
In an islet transplant, a donor who has passed away donates a pancreas, where the islets (clusters of insulin producing, blood sugar regulating cells) are extracted from the donor’s pancreas and infused to a recipient’s liver through a small incision in the portal vein. These islets then read blood sugar levels and regulate those levels, just like in a person without T1D!
I had this procedure over eleven years ago and have essentially lived diabetes-free since. On that day in December 2008, I received islet from 2 donors, and as time went on, I had a 2nd transplant where I received islets from a 3rd donor.
Today, my life is normal. Today, my family’s lives are normal. Understanding the difficulty of living with T1D, and now having a life free of it, we understand the importance of continued research to get this procedure cleared for others to enjoy and to make it a better procedure in the future.
Thank you for reading this, thank you for celebrating with us, and thank you for any donation you choose to make to the American Diabetes Association!
Dave, Denise, Reese, Sara, and Riley
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