Roger Sparks - Six Months - Islet Transplant

Six Months After My Islet Transplant – Each Day Is a Gift

Six months after my pancreatic islet transplant, I’m living totally without insulin. After 35 years with Type-1 Diabetes, each day is a breathtaking gift.

Exactly one year ago I woke up on the floor of my bedroom at 4AM, covered in blood, with no idea who I was, where I was, or how I got there. I was once again in the middle of a severe diabetic hypoglycemia episode.

One year later, I’m no longer taking insulin and haven’t had a low blood sugar since my first transplant New Years Day, 2016. I have experienced profound and incredible changes, and never would I have imagined that a re-birth could happen at this time of my life.

How My Life Has Changed

As a Type-1 diabetic, I began to assume some things were constants in my life: an insulin pump attached to my abdomen under my skin; sticking a needle in my finger multiple times a day to test my blood sugar; low blood sugars that cause me to become suddenly someone else; 4am visits by paramedics;  wondering what tomorrow might bring in the way of complications; seeing the concern in my loved one’s eyes as they wonder what’s going to happen next.

All – except for the blood tests – have now been eliminated.

Days Filled With Wonders – and Numbers

Each day I wake up – I still check my blood sugar as part of the clinical trial – and am amazed when I see a “non-diabetic” 95 on my blood glucose meter.  I now have meals without counting carbohydrates and, on occasion, I even have ice cream for dessert, only to find myself with a normal blood sugar two hours later.

I’ve also replaced most of my clothes, since my waist size has shrunk to 36″, after shedding almost 40 pounds with no change in diet or exercise. Insulin resistance, and more insulin, had resulted in added weight each year.  I stare at my scales in disbelief when I see 185 pounds. At 6’3″, I haven’t been this fit since my 20’s.

Thinking About The Future Again

After becoming insulin free, I now feel new hope for my longevity.  I had started to wonder if I was going to be around for much longer, and I had started to look at life pretty negatively.  After many years, I suddenly feel positive again, and that my future is bright.

The Wonderful People Who Surround Me

The greatest gifts over these past few months have been the people I’ve met on this journey.  So many deal every day with Type-1 diabetes, and each person has a unique, yet eerily similar, story.  How each of them copes with their personal condition is a continual source of inspiration.

I’ve met mothers who’ve lost children, and wives who’ve lost husbands, but they still find the ability to pray for a cure for the rest of us.  I’ve also met people who’ve participated in early trials, or had pancreas transplants that failed after many years, and have now, after being insulin free, had to go back to daily injections.  I’ve gotten to know people where diabetes caused heart problems – one in particular had a quadruple bypass – but face every day with happiness, joy, and purpose.

I’ve also learned from them how to better deal with our health care system, and find drug sources, as our American Congress repeatedly attempts to cut the benefits we need to stay alive.  Preexisting conditions are a daily part of our lives, and the struggle never ends to prevent insurance companies from bankrupting us.

These incredible people have made me appreciate even more my condition at the moment, and they’ve taught me to make every day truly mean something.  Their strength gives me strength, and their indomitable character and spirit lifts me every moment of every day.

Six Month Review

Last week I had four days of testing at the City of Hope.  This was a regularly scheduled – every 3 months – post transplant review. As usual, it was done by the doctor, nurse, and clinical assistant who have shepherded me though this entire transplant process. These dedicated people never cease to challenge me. They care so much about me, and about what they do, and they focus every day on their goal of eliminating diabetes from our lives.

I’m now waiting for test results, but I feel they are going to be good, based on the smiles on all of their faces.  It’s a perfect example of how hope can take a foothold when good things start to happen.

What My Clinical Trial Results Can Mean For You

My overriding purpose for participating in this clinical trial was the opportunity of being part of what will eventually be a cure for diabetes. If you are a Type-1 Diabetic, or know, love, or care for someone with this condition, look at me today to see what may be possible. For me it may not last forever – it is a clinical trial – but at the moment I am living the dream that we all have – an almost entirely non-diabetic daily existence. I now truly believe we’ll see this elusive dream come true for all of us in our lifetimes.

Want to be part of this? Here’s how you can join this crusade.


If you are a Type-1 Diabetic, living in Southern California, I seriously encourage you to consider participating in the City of Hope clinical trial, which is still looking for participants.  Be part of the search for a cure, and at the same time make your life better.

City of Hope Clinical Trial Information

Email them at: islets@coh.org and find out what you need to do to get in.


If you are a Type-1 Diabetic, I encourage you to consider participating in one of the many other clinical trials currently taking place.

Type-1 Diabetes Clinical Trials


For everyone, I urge you to consider being an Organ Donor.  You can help other people’s lives at the end of yours, save lives, and help find cures for life-threatening diseases.  It’s a gift worth giving, and it costs you nothing.

organdonor.gov


If you want to help spread the word about clinical trials, here’s how to help with an important documentary in process. The Human Trial is a feature length documentary that is currently following the first ever human trial of a stem cell derived treatment to find a cure for diabetes.  The award winning co-director and co-producer, Lisa Hepner, is also a Type-1 diabetic.  They are dedicated to the objective we all share:   finding a cure.

thehumantrial.com


God bless you all, and a grateful “thank you” for being so supportive over the past many months.

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