(KUTV) The University of Utah transplant team has successfully cured a 24-year-old Utah woman of Type 1 diabetes.
Celia Weaver who lives in St. George got the call five weeks ago she'd been waiting years for. Celia was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four. Her mother recalls the doctor's words that "there is no cure for this," Those words were a heavy burden for 20 years as Celia's health started to spiral downward.
For 20 years Celia was careful to count her carbs, check her blood sugar with constant pin pricks and insulin doses at meals. Even with all her efforts her health kept getting worse.
Five weeks after surgery Celia says she is filled with "so much gratitude." She has a new lease on life and is talking about the future, having babies and living a long happy life.
Just a few years ago at the age of 19, Celia was not in a happy place. She was losing hope with neuropathy taking over her life. She was going blind in both eyes, was exhausted and often couldn't get out of bed. Celia recalls having a conversation with her mom where she told her "I'm done fighting."
Celia says she went out and got a pass to a tanning salon, got hair extensions and decided she would live while she could. As the months progressed her diabetes took new tolls on her health. Her blood pressure was low, but her heart rate was unstoppable. Celia explains the feeling as, "running a marathon all the time even when you're lying down." Celia's cardiologist didn't give her much hope saying, "Your heart can only be on overdrive so long until your organs just stop."
The news was devastating to a young woman who expected health problems like this, but not until she was much older. Shortly after giving up on life in general, Celia says she met the love of her life. He was the neighbor's boy, who should have immediately changed her life.
Somehow she still wasn't happy saying, "I didn't want to get married and put anyone through that - taking care of me." Six months later the two were married and she started researching what she could do to help herself, that's when she found the University of Utah website talking about pancreas transplant as a cure for diabetes.
Doctor Robin Kim the executive director of transplants at the University of Utah says that in years past the risks of such a surgery were higher, but major advances have been made. Kim insists, "The benefits are certainly far better than the risks of living with diabetes."
At the time of Celia's call, the University Hospital was hiring a new transplant doctor who was making great strides in pancreas transplants in Texas. In just the last couple years the number of successful transplants has greatly increased at the U. 85% of the time those transplants are for diabetics with failing kidneys who need both kidneys and a pancreas.
Celia marks the hospitals first every pancreas transplant on a diabetic patient. The surgery is deemed a success, while there is a long road ahead and many appointments to ensure the organ is not rejected.
Celia is no longer a diabetic, she does not need to check her blood sugar or take insulin. She takes a handful of pills she says is nothing compared to what she is used to dealing with.
Going into the surgery Celia was committed saying that there was no fear, "either way" she said, "I was going to die and I would rather go fighting." Fighting to get on the transplant list took two years and the wait for a pancreas took seven months, a short wait in comparison to years of sickness she'd dealt with.
Celia's mother says that "getting the call is something you can never ever prepare for emotionally or mentally." For Celia, "there is sadness for the donor and there's so much joy." Celia is not looking back she says the surgery and wait were worth it, adding she can't describe "how great I feel."
Celia Weaver wants to spread the message about pancreas transplant and encourage others in her same situation to look into the option. Pancreas only transplants are available to type 1 diabetic under the age of 50.
Doctors at the University of Utah remind everyone that transplants are a gift of giving only made possible by people willing to become donors.
Celia has a fund going that will help her purchase a new set of teeth, which she had previously removed, you can donate at: http://www.gofundme.com/5lnw7c
If you would like to learn more about the pancreas transplant program visit: bit.ly/1lAcqG0
By: Heidi Hatch
Follow her on Twitter @tvheidihatch
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)
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