Living with the day to day worries and calculation of how much insulin to take and what to eat is now a thing of the past for one East Texan. Diabetics with type 1 diabetes now have hope that one day they will be insulin free. For Ken Hilliard, after 27 years, that day is here. Ken says, "It's not a cure, I'm still considered diabetic but I'm insulin free, where I was once insulin dependent." Ken use to wear an insulin pump and is now free from that and can't believe it's real. He says he feels like he has died and gone to heaven.
Ken is one of five hundred people world wide who have been choosen to take part in the study. He think it's really exciting because I know that in the future I know it will make a difference for other people. Ken says, "I had a sister that died from complications of diabetes at the age of 48 and hopefully down the road this will benefit all type 1 diabetics." The procedure is non invasive and only takes about 15 minutes.
Ken has had two transplants, at a Houston hospital. He says he felt an immediate change. "After I had my first transplant the very next day I noticed an immediate increase of energy. I cannot remember feeling this great," says Ken. The islet cells come from a pancreas. Transplants are only available if there is an organ donor. He is thankful for those people that help improve his quality of life. Ken says, "You never know whose life you are going to save, and what difference you are going to make in people's life. You never know when you are going to have a child or grandchild a parent that becomes insulin dependent and if the study proves like they are hoping..you will definitely improve the quality of life of other people. And it's just extremely important."
Ken says those participating in the Houston study take a small dose of long lasting insulin, which gives the islets a chance to rest. He also watches what he eats and exercises.