Geraldine Grant's life was transformed by a kidney-pancreas transplantHave an opinion on this article? Click on comments at the end of this post.
By Debbie Waite Oxford Mail
Geraldine Grant is one of only a handful of diabetes patients of her type in the world to undergo a kidney and pancreas transplant.
Now she wants Oxford Mail readers to do something world-changing too, by becoming organ donors.
Fifty-one-year-old divorcee Mrs Grant, from Kennington, was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 24 — and for more than 20 years was treated with insulin as a Type 1 diabetic.
In 2002, as is common with many diabetics, her kidneys started to fail.
Two years later, she was forced to have a kidney removed.
And it was then that she made a startling discovery.
She said: "After they removed one of my kidneys I found my blood sugar levels stayed okay and I didn't actually seem to need my insulin injections. I was very puzzled.
"I stopped taking the injections and went back to the Churchill Hospital for tests and they found I wasn't a Type 1 diabetic after all, I actually had Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (Mody).
"This is more difficult to diagnose than other forms of diabetes and basically meant I had inherited diabetes, I hadn't developed it, and my body had actually been producing insulin all along. “Despite having taken insulin for more than 20 years, I may not have needed it at all."
Mrs Grant spent the next two years controlling her diabetes with a strict diet and daily blood monitoring, but doctors told her she would one day need a transplant.
She said: "In 2006, the Churchill's transplant centre put me on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, but my doctor put the case that I needed a new pancreas too.
"This was very unusual as only Type 1 diabetics — whose bodies cannot produce insulin — usually qualify for a new pancreas. But it went for a review and I was put forward for the double transplant."
In 2007, suffering a lot of pain, anaemia and with soaring blood pressure, Mrs Grant was forced to go on dialysis for 18 months until a donor could be found.
She said: "When the transplant call eventually came it was a case of 14th time lucky.
"After the operation my doctor came to see me and told me just how unusual it was for a Mody patient like me to have a pancreas transplant. I have been so lucky."
But Mrs Grant's joy has also been tinged with concern for her four children.
She said: "When they discovered I had inherited diabetes, my four sons were tested straight away and two, the eldest and the youngest were both found to have the Mody gene. I was very upset.
"The oldest, Alex, 27, is now taking tablets for the condition, Fraser, 19, the youngest hasn't shown any signs of the disease, but it has made me worry a lot about what will happen to their health in the future.
"My new kidney has taken wonderfully and although I've had some little problems with my pancreas, I do feel a lot better in myself.
"All my sons are now organ donors and I'm very proud of them for that.
"But I would like to see everyone become a donor who can — you don't need those organs after you have gone and they can help so many other people..”
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves