Advocates of research to treat and cure Type 1 Diabetes are meeting with members of Congress this week. A Utah mother from Riverton is in Washington, D.C. to share her 13-year-old son's story. While there, Stacey Warnick will encourage continued federal funding for programs that she hopes will lead to a cure of the metabolic disease.
When Warnick’s son Tannan was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes she had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Dealing with the disease was not new to her. Stacey’s husband is also among the 1.25 million Americans whose body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired. This can lead to an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.
“Just from the time my husband was diagnosed until now has been amazing with the new technologies that are out there,” Warnick said. “It really does help manage it better. But it is still a 24/7 disease.”
Warnick volunteers with the national non-profit JDRF. The organization has raised or directed nearly $5 billion toward researching a cure. Monday and Tuesday Warnick is meeting with Utah's Congressional delegation to thank them for supporting a federally funded Special Diabetes Program.
"We visit them every year,” she said. “For this visit it is more of a thank you. We also always want to talk about what the latest progress is so they are always up to date.”
The majority of money raised for diabetes research comes from community members and families.
“We do all we can at home,” Warnick said. “We’ve got lemonade stands and yard sales and dinners and things that we do to raise money, but there is that gap. We are so grateful to Congress because they help fill that gap.”
In February, Congress approved a two-year renewal of the SPD program that began in 1997. Federal funding supports new studies that Warnick says could lead to better treatments. Those treatments could include advancements in technology similar to the one she uses to monitor Tannan's glucose levels. Through Blue-Tooth and her Smart Phone, Warnick is warned daily when her son is in danger.
“Instead of checking his blood sugars eight to ten times a day, it basically checks his blood sugar every five minutes,” Warnick said. “Having that technology where I can look at my phone and know what his blood sugar is has been great. I can look at his blood sugars at any time of the day, and it has been literally a life saver in many times when he has been low. I can call in to the nurse right away at the school and make sure that they find him and take care of him.”
The federal Special Diabetes Program provides the National Institutes of Health with $150 million annually for Type 1 Diabetes research.