This was the case for Oliver, a severe Type 1 diabetes sufferer, who nearly had to abandon his successful career because of his disease.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, which destroys pancreatic islets – the cells that produce insulin. Patients require multiple daily insulin injections and constant monitoring of blood glucose. If not controlled, Type 1 diabetes can have massive health impacts and can be fatal. It can also affect quality of life and other chronic health complications.
For more than 20 years, Professor Wayne Hawthorne and his team at Westmead have been studying ground-breaking islet cell transplantation as an innovative treatment for patients diagnosed with severe Type 1 diabetes.
As researchers from The Westmead Institute and Westmead Hospital, they pioneered the first clinical trial of an innovative procedure where donor pancreatic islet cells were transplanted into the recipient’s liver.
Thanks to the Westmead team, people such as Oliver can return to their careers and significantly improved quality of life after islet cell transplantation.
Professor Hawthorne continues to lead a specialised research team, committed to providing patients with the best possible treatments for Type 1 diabetes. They are now working to develop new technologies to cure many more patients suffering from the disease.
The team has already completed more than 50 clinical islet cell transplants at Westmead Hospital. A milestone in their research combined with recent advances in medical technologies, is enabling more patients to benefit from this ground-breaking procedure.
Transplants require enormous co-ordination – between getting the call that a donor pancreas is available, the extraction of the islet cells and preparing the recipient for the procedure – Professor Hawthorne and the Westmead team dedicate incredible energy and time to the entire process.
The next steps in Professor Hawthorne’s research involve refining the process to help more people with Type 1 diabetes, by expanding the use of the currently available donor organs and streamlining the islet isolation process. These projects are the focus of several of their current research projects.
Professor Hawthorne stated,
“We have come so far in treatment options for Type 1 diabetes, but we won’t stop until we find a cure for all patients with Type 1 diabetes”