February 10, 2016 | by City of Hope
When she was just 9 years old, Gina Marchini had to be airlifted to a hospital when her undiagnosed diabetes nearly killed her.
This week, the 33-year-old kindergarten teacher from Palmer, Alaska, told a national television audience that, after an islet cell transplant performed at City of Hope last year, her body is now producing its own insulin.
“I thought diabetes was a life sentence,” Gina said. “Now, I'm insulin-free."
Listen to Gina tell her amazing story in the four-minute video from "The Doctors." You’ll also hear from Fouad Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D, the leader of the islet cell transplantation trial that Gina took part in.
Kandeel, chair of the Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, was instrumental in launching City of Hope’s Islet Cell Transplantation Program. Since leading the first transplantation in 2004, he has pursued the safest and most effective methods of transplantation — using islet cells from donors — a far simpler procedure than transplantation of an entire pancreas.
For Gina, the dedication to leading-edge diabetes research at City of Hope has had life-changing results.
"I thought there was no way around it without my insulin shots,” Gina said. “But now, after checking my blood sugar levels every two hours for days on end with results in the nondiabetic range, I’m starting to believe I’m free.”
Explore diabetes research and diabetes treatment at City of Hope. If you are looking for a second opinion about your diagnosis or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.