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For 53-year old Peter, health issues began from an early stage in life, but he has not let that define him. He first began developing signs of Type 1 Diabetes in Year 5 at primary school and because of a lack of research and awareness at the time, he remained undiagnosed until he was 15 years old. Today, a positive Peter is hitting the burn-out track, determined to raise money to help other people like him. Read his story…
“I was coming home with the shakes and the doctor back in those days wasn’t sure what it was because it was unheard of. He thought I was over exerting myself so he told me to stop being so active,” Peter said.
Interestingly, it was an accident in his third year of high school that led to doctors discovering Peter had Type 1 Diabetes. Peter stepped on a loin chop bone, and it went straight through his foot.
“I got rushed to hospital where they thought I was allergic to morphine so they flew me to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) where I was in a coma for two days. They thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
“The flying doctor squad actually picked up on it on the way to the RAH and I was diagnosed and became insulin dependent when I was just 15 years old.”
At the age of 34, Peter unfortunately needed amputations which began with his toes and then his right leg in 1999. His left leg was eventually amputated in 2010 and Peter now has two prosthetic legs.
“My kidney failure happened after my second leg amputation in 2010. I was on lots of intravenous antibiotics for six weeks at a time to help save my leg and I then went to my doctor and raised concern that my kidney was shutting down,” Peter said.
“I was put on dialysis for six months which wasn’t working and I was coming home with chronic headaches. It was a really bad point in my life.”
Peter underwent a kidney transplant at the RAH, performed by Professor Toby Coates, whom Peter had been seeing for a few years prior.
“Luckily I’m a rare blood type and I had a very successful kidney transplant. Prof Coates said it was one of the best kidneys he had seen for a while,” Peter said.
“Prof Coates was extremely happy with my progress and results from my kidney transplant and he was then willing to do a pancreas transplant, much to my diabetic doctor’s reluctance.
“We got in touch with Monash Hospital in Melbourne and they agreed to do the procedure as it cannot be done here in Adelaide.”
One early Sunday morning, Peter and his wife got a call and after a red eye flight, they were in Melbourne where he underwent his transplant.
“I am no longer a diabetic, I have the freedom from not having to take insulin each and every day. I have been diabetes free for about eight months now,” Peter explained.
“I am on anti-rejection drugs from the pancreas transplant and so far I have no side effects. I am on the lowest dosage, which can give me an extra 20-30 years more to live. That’s pretty amazing.”
For Peter, the main thing he says he doesn’t miss at all is “the hypos”, a term for hypoglycaemia, which is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose level has dropped too low.
“Having a hypo can be compared to running a marathon. It absolutely exhausts you and I’m so glad I don’t have to go through that anymore.”
Thanks to your continuous support and donations, research has been able to allow people like Peter to have a second chance at a healthy life.
“I’ve been cured but not everyone can do this. I hope somewhere along the way researchers will be able to prevent diabetes and kidney disease. Transplantation research is such an achievement and I would love if more people could be lucky enough like me,” Peter said.
Diabetes in children is an area Peter is very passionate about and really wants to support. With your help, we can continue to fund research in this area.
“It was hard taking insulin when I was 15 years old, as a kid you just want to feel normal and live a normal life. Life is hard and there is a lot of pressure for kids,” Peter said.
This year, on December 17, Peter will be raising money with a team at the Adelaide Motor Sport Park. Donations will be taken at the door and go towards research supported by THRF’s disease specific affiliate Kidney Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia. Mark the date in your diary and stay tuned for details on how you can get behind this exciting cause!
Thank you for your continuous support and donations, without you this would not be possible!