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Bruce's story: my experience receiving an islet transplant



Diagnosed in 1997.

Since I’ve had the transplants, I'm starting to get some signs of hypos back.

If we’re going to find a cure for people with type 1 diabetes, we need to find a way to help people produce their own insulin. That’s where islet transplants come in. They can help people avoid severe hypos and temporarily make enough insulin to reduce or even stop the amount they inject or pump. 

We've backed research into islet transplants since the very beginning. Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to invest over £2.3 million in the last 10 years alone, and help make life with diabetes a little easier for people like Bruce. But we're not finished yet, and we need your help.

Journey with diabetes

Bruce's journey with diabetes

  • Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997.
  • Uses an insulin pump.
  • Had an islet transplant in 2014.


Effect of islet transplant

The transplant has made a big improvement to my diabetes. My HbA1c has been going down slowly but regularly since my transplant.

I've had diabetes now since July 1997 and was put on to insulin straight away. My glucose levels were extremely high throughout the last 20 years.

About 6 or 7 years ago it was decided that because my blood glucose levels were so erratic, I'd be put on to an insulin pump. Since I've been on the pump, my glucose levels have been better, but they're still quite high and move around a lot.

In 2014, because my glucose levels were still high, it was decided that I would get one of the first islet cell transplants in the UK, which took place on the 8th August 2014.

It seemed like it was going okay, but the doctors still decided to give me a second transplant to make sure it would all go to plan. It was just a basic top up, but unfortunately for me, about a year ago it turned out that the new islets hadn't been accepted. My body had fought them, and they'd failed.

However, having said that it's made a big improvement to my diabetes. I'm still testing my glucose levels multiple times a day. I usually test before each meal and then three hours after. The support I've received has been absolutely fantastic. The diabetes specialist nurses have stayed in regular contact, so have the renal team. And my HbA1C has been going down slowly. When I last had it tested it was 66 mmol/mol which is the best it's been. It has been going down regularly since my transplant.

I'm still feeling quite tired at times and I still have periods of feeling low because of my diabetes. But I can safely say I'm feeling a lot better about my health.
If I were able to, I'd love to have another go at the islet transplant, but that's down to my medical team to make that decision. At the minute I'm taking each day as it comes. I send an email update of my blood glucose levels to my diabetes specialist team every two weeks. They advise me on what I should do, and what we can do in the future.

I think I'm more aware of what's going on around me now. I'm just generally more aware that if I keep on top of my blood glucose levels, I can make my life better. I'm trying to improve my own lifestyle too. I'm looking at what I'm eating, and how active I am. I know now when I need to slow down and look after myself.

I would like people to know that they don't need to be scared to tell people they have diabetes, as they may just save your life someday. My life now is more relaxed – I’m not so stressed, not bothered about what people think when I have to check my sugar levels in public or take my insulin using my pump. 

I just want to live a happy, healthy life.


Our supporters raised £650,000 between 2001 and 2005, which paid for the UK’s first 15 islet transplants and now we’re supporting research to make islet transplants even better.

We're on our way to creating a world where diabetes can do no harm. But we're not finished yet, and neither are our scientists. 

It's only with your help that we can move forward with ground-breaking research. Will you donate today and help us fund more breakthroughs? 

Donate today

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