Providing Hope for Those with Type 1 Diabetes

Currently 1.25 million Americans live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), including 200,000 children. Approximately 40,000 new patients are diagnosed yearly. “The percentage of children with T1D is increasing worldwide, particularly those under age five,” according to Dr. Jane Kim, pediatric endocrinologist at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego and researcher at UC San Diego. Many still refer to T1D as juvenile diabetes. However, T1D can occur at any age, and more adults are being diagnosed after age 30.

“I recently diagnosed a patient with new-onset T1D at 82 years old. We are definitely seeing more of this,” said Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, Vice President, Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and Scientific Review Committee member at the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC).

T1D is unique in the amount of self-management required. Over 5,000 hours can be spent yearly making multiple decisions about how much insulin to take and juggling how stress, exercise, food, illness and 35 other variables affect blood sugar levels. A diagnosis is life-changing for the person with T1D and the family. Parents report trauma-like symptoms around the time of diagnosis. Increased burnout and stress occur given the unrelenting demands of T1D. There are the ongoing fears of life-threatening low blood sugar levels (1 in 17 dies of hypoglycemia), blindness, kidney failure, depression, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage and other risks.

DRC is hosting its 2ndannual Del Mar Dance for Diabetes on Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Del Mar Plaza. Feel the ocean breeze as you enjoy amazing food, an open bar and dancing under the stars to live music, including a fun silent dance party to close the night.

This event will raise necessary funds to support DRC’s mission. Established in 2012 as a nonprofit organization by David Winkler and Dr. Alberto Hayek, its mission is to connect donors with early-career scientists enabling them to perform peer-reviewed, novel research designed to prevent and cure type 1 diabetes, minimize its complications and improve the quality of life for those living with the disease. The best part is the community chooses which projects to support and 100% of donations designated for research goes directly to the scientist’s lab.

The mission is personal to co-founder and President, Dr. Alberto Hayek, world-renowned pediatric endocrinologist and T1D researcher. “In my clinical practice, I would ask each child I cared for, ‘If you could have one thing in the world, what would it be?’ Their response was always the same, ‘I want a cure!’ After years of receiving the same answer, I knew I had to do something different, so I went into research to try to find a cure,” Dr. Hayek shared with Giving Back Magazine.

“I founded DRC with David Winkler because we both believe there is more to do and are committed to funding early-career scientists with novel approaches to prevent, cure and better care for those with T1D,” says Dr. Hayek.

Photo by: Samuel Nelson