When you have Type 1 Diabetes you are dependent on insulin injections because your pancreas isn't doing its job to produce that hormone that controls blood sugar levels. When gone uncontrolled, people with Type 1 Diabetes can have severe complications or die way too young. For a Sioux Falls woman getting the gift of life twice made her doubly thankful to her donors and to the Avera Transplant Institute.
34 year old Brandy Tschetter of Sioux Falls can truly appreciate the simple pleasures in life now spending a morning at the park with two of her 3 children worry free.
She laughs, "I'm doing good."
In March of 2004 she got the gift of life for the second time. She got a pancreas transplant at the Avera McKennan Transplant Institute on the campus of Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls. The donor was a 15 year old girl who had died in a car crash in Denver. A year before that her fiance donated one of his kidneys. They are now happily married and healthy.
Brandy says, "Yep, I have 3 kidneys and 2 pancreas. My husband says I'm hogging them all."
Brandy suffered from Type 1 diabetes for about 20 years before one of her kidney's failed.
Nephrologist Dr. Michael Aaronson with the Avera McKennan Transplant Institute and Avera North Central Kidney Institute says, " The pancreas secrets insulin. We need that in order to process the glucose we eat so it's important to have one we all are born with one. Type 1 Diabetes is when we lose function of it. "
Brandy has been using syringes basically all her life. Thanks to her new pancreas, she is syringe free and diabetes free.
Brandy says "It's been wonderful since I got the pancreas. I was diagnosed with diabetes since I was 10. So I lived with shots and finger sticks for blood sugars and all of that stuff. I don't have to any of that anymore and I don't really have to watch what I eat unless you are on a diet to lose weight. It's just wonderful."
Some transplant patients go on to give birth, but that wasn't an option for Brandy. Instead, she and her new husband and her two kids welcomed Sierra into their family through adoption.
Now they can all shower the new baby with sweetness and Brandy doesn't have to give a second thought about her blood sugar levels.
The Avera Transplant Institute is the region's only facility to offer bone marrow, kidney and pancreas transplants.