Marcia Simon

I was diagnosed with diabetes 40 years ago at the age of four. The therapies and treatment for diabetes were much less advanced in 1961 than they are today. I took one shot a day of NPH and regular insulin and tested my urine to measure my sugar level.

Though I stayed away from sweets, I went into a diabetic coma at the age of 20 with a blood sugar level of over 1,000. We would later come to realize that this amount of sugar in the blood would damage all the small blood vessels in my body. The following year, I lost the eyesight in my right eye after an unsuccessful vitrectomy.

Seven years later, my left eye hemorrhaged and started growing a cataract. At the age of 34, while being evaluated for a kidney transplant, my cardiologist discovered four blocked arteries in my heart and performed a quadruple by-pass that took me a year to recover from. Two weeks before the heart surgery, I went on dialysis.

I became very sick while waiting for the transplant. During my two-year wait, I had 54 blood transfusions and was hospitalized 14 times in one year with a wide variety of diabetic-related problems.

In February 1994, I became the 17th person to have an experimental simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplant. I was hospitalized for two months with a wide variety of complications from the surgery. That surgery also took me a year to recover from.

Now I am enjoying a somewhat healthier life without diabetes. The pancreas and kidney are both working fine! Though I don’t take any insulin shots anymore and NEVER check my blood sugar levels, I take 31 pills a day. I still have periodic insulin reactions, but for the most part, my blood sugar level stays in the normal range. I have since gone back to work and live a fairly normal life. I have had a sneak preview of what life will be like when a cure is found and it is wonderful!!

Marcia Simon