Surgery cured patient of diabetes

December 1, 2010 2:55:41 PM PST
Every day, 40 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with type one diabetes.

It's an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

Some patients are able to manage with a daily insulin regimen, but for others, complications like kidney failure can be life-threatening.

One young woman had a surgery that cured her of diabetes, and changed her life.

For 19 year old Danielle Scheetz, growing up hasn't been all fun and games.

From age 5 on, she had to adjust her life to the challenges of type one diabetes. Her disease was so severe, it was damaging her kidneys.

"I had to take medicine morning and night and do the insulin, before the pump I had the insulin shots three or four times a day," she said.

Recently doctors told her she was out of time and she needed a new kidney.

Doctor Jason Wellen performed a combination transplant. Not only a new kidney to replace the failing one, but also a pancreas from the same donor.

"These patients most often never require an additional unit of insulin from the time they leave the operating room. What that allows is that prevents their type one diabetes that they had prior to the transplant from attacking that new kidney," said Dr. Wellen.

A new, properly functioning pancreas stabilized her sugar levels.

"It's still weird to think about that I'm not diabetic anymore. I don't think it's still completely hit me," adds Scheetz.