After living for over 40-years with Diabetes, a Lloydminster Lion has gotten a new lease on life thanks to an evolving procedure at the University of Alberta.
Brent Smithson who is the chair of the Diabetes committee with the Lloydminster Lions has gone from taking over 45 units of insulin a day to just 12 and not having to worry about his schedule and taking the lifesaving dose.
“If you have never been a Diabetic, you’re always watching the clock, you’re always worried about what you are doing, how much you’re exercising, how much you are eating,” says Smithson.
As a type one diabetic he has undergone the islet procedure being developed by Dr. James Shapiro at the U of A. Smithson did the treatment last year, which involves having harvested islet cells from a donor injected into the recipient’s liver.
He says he was required to do tests and fill out a questionnaire on things like, how many times did your blood sugar drop low and if you recognize when you’re low or not.
“When we started out in the program, they told us that we would have to plan on being in Edmonton for two-three months. Now this is how much things have changed in the period of four-years. When I finally got to the point where I was a recipient for the transplant, my stay in the hospital was four-days,” says Smithson.
Over a six-month period, Smithson continued doing regular blood-tests as doctors monitored the impact of the procedure.
He says his doctors are now telling him to relax and not worry so much. He has gone from over 40-years of testing his sugar levels six-times a day to having to test just twice.
The Lloydminster Lions will be hosting Diabetes Education Night in conjunction with the LRHF, SHA, AHS and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“They are going to help us set up a support group in Lloydminster for type one Diabetics, which is going to be very informal – everybody is going to get together, sit down and talk,” says Smithson. He adds they are focusing on the kids as currently children are sent to Edmonton or Saskatoon and people are not aware of resources that are in Lloydminster.
Also, Smithson says the conversation will not be just about medical issues, but things like dealing with a teen who develops Diabetes and is unhappy with the lifestyle adjustments.
The evening will feature dieticians, manufacturers of pumps and other medical support equipment.
Smithson notes that Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness and they will host a presentation from Dr. Darren Phillips on Diabetic eye health.
The Living with Diabetes info night is free and takes place Tuesday May 30 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Legacy Centre.
Residents with questions may contact the Lions by email: [email protected] or via their social media.