A Tulsan is winning her battle over diabetes thanks to special transplant

Tuesday, September 14th 2004, 2:06 pm
By: News On 6

Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes affects about a million of us, but only a very few are as fortunate as Lisa Owens.

She’s participating in a research project which has given her something she hasn't had for 24 years, a normal life. News on 6 reporter Rick Wells tells us Lisa Owens feels like she won the lottery.

Lisa Owens is a member of a very select group who have received islet cell transplants.
There are only 114 in the US; she's the only one in Oklahoma. "It was seriously waking up to a whole new day."

The procedure is experimental; it involves transplanting Islet cells from a donated pancreas into the liver of the diabetes patient. The cells take up residence in the small blood vessels of the liver and function in about the same way they would have in the donor's pancreas, they produce insulin.

For her it's been a success, she is off insulin for he first time in 24 years. She takes anti rejection drugs every day and as a result her immune system is a bit weaker, but she says the difference is like day and night. "It's that old saying you don't realize how bad you feel till you feel good."

She feels great; the transplant procedure is fairly simple but dangerous and very expensive. She and her husband Mark talked about it long and hard, he wondered why she wanted to go through it, for her the answer was simple. "This is what I've always been looking for, this is my hope."

And for two years it has worked, how long will it last, and no one knows, was it worth it, you bet, the picture on the computer over her shoulder is of her new grandson, Dakota. She lived to see him born, she feels like she's won the lottery. "For me it's better than money.”

Saturday is the 9th Walk to Cure Diabetes. It will be at the Schusterman Center at 41st and Yale. Registration is at 9 AM and the walk starts at 10 AM.

There is more information on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation by visiting their web site at www.jdrf.org or by calling 481-5807.