Midlands girl, diabetic and allergic to insulin needs rare transplant

Midlands girl finally receives needed transplant

Imagine being allergic to the only thing keeping you alive. That is the reality for one 12-year-old girl in the Midlands who is fighting for her life.

A fun day for Emmy Reeves would look something like playing in the backyard, heading to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, or enjoying summer camp with her friends. When you're as young as little Emmy, every day is supposed to be easy.

Of all the things that should feel normal at the age of 12, living in pain is a part of Emmy's normal day-to-day life.

"Her thing is she just wants to be a normal diabetic," Emmy's mother, Tiffanie Reeves said.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be a traumatic diagnosis for anyone. Emmy's diagnosis is exceptionally traumatic since she is allergic to the insulin used to control the symptoms.

"That first (insulin) shot sent her into respiratory distress," Emmy's mother said. "I knew the insulin hurt her but she doesn't remember a time of not being in pain. Hugs hurt her, touch hurts her. That's her life."

One side effect of the insulin for Emmy is hives and rashes. In an effort to manage those additional symptoms, she takes multiple antihistamines, which, in turn, keep her extremely drowsy on most days.

Emmy is home-schooled and rarely gets to play with friends. In fact, she rarely gets to leave her parents' side.

Despite the pain and reactions, however, she can't live without insulin. But now, Emmy is hanging on by a thread.

"We have moments that are becoming more frequent where she doesn't absorb insulin at all. Her blood sugars will go above 600 for hours. We have to knock her out with even more antihistamines and it's in that moment where it's really scary," Tiffanie said.

Her family was forced to make a rare decision. Emmy was approved to undergo a pediatric pancreas transplant.

"There are only a couple of places in the United States that would be willing to even attempt this," Tiffanie explained.

It's a final hope for a better quality of life.

"The hope is that her pain will go away, her quality of life will go up, plus we will extend her life," Tiffanie said.

The procedure is so rare that the Minneapolis doctor who is willing to do the surgery has only done four in his lifetime. The last one was in 1998.

According to Emmy's mother, there are only two children on the waiting list for a pancreas and they are suffering from severe pancreatitis.

Emmy is not active for a transplant just yet. The Reeves are raising money for her expensive transplant that will end up costing them around $75,000.
Doctors hope they can perform this high risk surgery by the end of 2017.

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