Rita Hart, Rachel Harris, Kenneth Bernstein, Gary Kleiman and Ken Tenbusch (known as the Miami 5)are all islet cell transplant recipients! Each has spent numerous years battling Type I diabetes until receiving new islet cells at the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami, Florida. Today, they all maintain normal blood glucose levels and no longer suffer from hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) reactions!!!
WHAT ARE ISLETS
In a healthy pancreas, there are two different kinds of cells: one kind secretes digestive juices into the bowel to digest different food ingredients, and the other kind secretes hormones like insulin and glucagon into the blood. The latter cells are grouped in small islands in the pancreas; they are called the Islets of Langerhans. Each of these islets contains a few thousand cells, and a total of one to two million insulin-secreting cells. In a person with type 1 diabetes, the insulin producing cells are attacked by the immune system and are destroyed, leading to a deficiency of insulin and high blood sugar. For the person with diabetes to survive, insulin has to either be provided by injections or, as this research shows, the islet cells can be transplanted to provide insulin
Islet Cell Tranplants are currently being conducted in clinical research trials and are considered experimental. There has been extremely promising results especially in recent years. To learn more about islet cell transplants, please see our "FAVORITE LINKS" page.