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Transplant milestone – SA's first islet cell transplant recipient marks 10 years diabetes-free

South Australia’s first islet cell transplant recipient has marked an incredible milestone – 10 years since the surgery which effectively “cured” her diabetes.

Margaret Harrigan marked the occasion sharing her favourite dessert – something she couldn’t do previously – with one of the team involved with her care, Royal Adelaide Hospital endocrinologist Dr David Torphy.

After 36 years suffering Type 1 diabetes, she says she pinches herself every day.

In the years before her transplant, Margaret’s body started rejecting daily insulin injections. She struggled with usual daily life and had to give up her loved job as a teacher.

“Before the surgery, Margaret suffered severe bouts of hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar which meant she could fall unconscious at any time without warning,” Dr Torphy said.

“This surgery and the care Margaret continues to receive at the Royal Adelaide hospital means she no longer suffers hypoglycaemia or requires daily injections of insulin.

“It has also helped to resolve other complications of her diabetes, including nerve damage and vision impairment.

“It has been incredible to see Margaret regain her independence and be able to lead a healthy, happy life.”

Islet cell transplants are now a standard practice at the RAH and the surgery is available to people with Type 1 diabetes suffering from hypoglycaemia unawareness such as frequent episodes of reduced consciousness, without warning symptoms, from low blood sugar.

There have been 57 islet cell transplant recipients across Australia, including 12 at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

CALHN continues to look for innovation and embrace new practices, and Margaret’s 10 year milestone demonstrates how our wold-class care is helping to change lives.

*Pictured are endocrinologist Dr David Torphy and Margaret Harrigan celebrating the milestone with a previously forbidden dessert (which she now enjoys in moderation!).

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