Saturday, 11 December 2010

Threat to Diabetes Transplants

Threat to Diabetes Transplants

A WORLD-leading transplant program pioneered by Melbourne scientists is in jeopardy unless Federal funding continues.

The lives of 14 type 1 diabetics have been saved or improved through the experimental islet transplants performed by the St Vincent's Institute.

Commonwealth backing for the groundbreaking research has run out and the program will wind up in June if gap finance is not provided.

The institute hopes to attract backing from a new State Government program in mid-2012, but yesterday made a plea to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to provide to survival cash.

After hearing from three women already saved by the transplants Ms Gillard was in no doubt about the importance and success of the St Vincent's research, but the Government is yet to commit to financing.

Under the experimental treatment islet cells are removed from organ donors and transplanted in type 1 diabetics to enable their pancreas to produce insulin.

Fighting for the transplant program's future is the institute's foundation chairwoman, Susan Alberti. She lost her only child, Danielle, to type 1 diabetes and "bought" a lunch with Ms Gillard for $85,000 at a charity auction, which turned into a lunch for about 170 people yesterday.

To make her plea even harder to refuse, Ms Alberti donated $500,000 to the cause.

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