Watch Live: Project Angel Food’s Star-Studded Annual Award Gala Underway in Hollywood

Medical Miracles: New Hope for Those With Type 1 Diabetes

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Over 25 million children and adults in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. That’s over 8 percent of the population.

In people over the age of 20, there are almost two million new cases of diabetes every year.

One local man says that his type 1 diabetes controlled his entire life — that is, until now.

“You get low, you get tired. Many things happen. I’d start seeing cross-sighted, my muscles relax when I get low on sugar,” David Martin said.

It was the diagnosis that changed Martin’s life at just seven years old, bringing challenges that those without the disease would never face.

“I didn’t feel good. I wanted to play — I just fell to the floor,” Martin recalled.

“One thing, I had to move into a bedroom by my mom, because I started going into convulsions at three in the morning from being too low on sugar,” Martin said.

“So my mom would jump up and take care of me.”

As the years passed, he learned to deal with the disease, but the dangers and complications always stayed steadfast in his mind.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to break down sugar. Type 1 diabetics must have insulin shots to stay alive.

“I’m 55, I really want to find a cure – not just for me, but for other people,” Martin said.

His quest for a cure brought the avid cyclist to City of Hope, where a cutting-edge therapy called an ‘islet cell transplant’ is giving patients a new lease on life.

While doctors say it may not be a complete cure, this father insists that it’s his medical miracle.

“I call myself a diabetic 1 that’s insulin free,” he said.

Now, Martin is dedicated to educating others that diabetes is not a dead end diagnosis, and there is hope of becoming insulin-free in the very near future.

–Jessica Holmes, KTLA News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Rene Rodriguez

    I been a type i diabetic since age 5 and would like to know how I can help, I can relate to this story and have had a life that is meaningless, I sometimes wonder why do I continue to live with no hope, now I just saw this story and it has given me hope. I just turned 35.

    • David Martin

      Hi Rene,
      I am David Martin the one who had the transplants and I just want to let you know that I feel there will be a total cure for type 1 in about 10 years. There is about three major research studies going on that have a chance to be a total cure. Most of these will involve transplanting Islet Cells into a diabetic but also transplanting something else aother type Beta Cell to totally stop the attacking the Islet Cell or something to put a netting around the Islet Cell so it wont get attack and wont have to take ant-rejection drugs. I been hearing that there will be a cure in 10 years all of my life but i really believe it now. They have learned many things with my study that it just blows my mine. What you can do now is to excercise every 48 hours for 30 minutes. If you like, do fund raising with diferent oragnizations such as ADA or JDRF to help out with events or funds to support research. This year I help create a ADA Bike ride that help provide funds for research and the great thing is working with other Diabetics with alot of the same issues that I had. God Bless!

  • dejahthoris78

    Islet cell transplant has been around for awhile but like any transplant there can be rejection issues as well as lowered resistance to diseases (immunodeficiency) and other side effects due to anti rejection drugs. It is a miracle for those who have success, but the surgery is only for those in desperate need.

    • Rebecca Hillquist

      To quote David Martin,
      "Most of these will involve transplanting Islet Cells into a diabetic but also transplanting something else aother type Beta Cell to totally stop the attacking the Islet Cell or something to put a netting around the Islet Cell so it wont get attack and wont have to take ant-rejection drugs."
      Had you considered this before you posted?

      • David Martin

        I had the three islet cell transplant 3 years ago and on April fools day I will be insulin free for three years. The research on the other types of transplants were not really there for that's was four years ago. This shows how fast we are moving to get a cure. I believe the three new studies have not gotten FDA approval but they have been summited. Cell research in all diseases have speeded everything up and also another great thing is they have machines that can take millions of readings on one cell and it is also now required that the readings go to a central data base that all Doctors can get to. Just a note I am not a Doctor I am a Faclities Supervisor but I keep up with research. All this above makes me believe there will be a cure for type 1's.

  • Jenny Sutherland

    Last night, February 5th our local news aired a story about a Gentleman who received an Islet cell transplant and who is now what they termed as "Insulin-Free". Like most of the story teasers Network news uses, this made me wait to watch it. I really had hopes it WAS in fact, a new treatment/cure.

    I watched that story on Channel 5 (KTLA) news at 10 and found it to be idealistic and incomplete. There was no mention about the anti-rejection drugs the gentleman featured now has to take, no mention of the criterion in getting an Islet-cell transplant and the ongoing costs of this new life without type 1 Diabetes.

    I would think this gentleman was probably very ill and the transplant was done as a last resort for his wellbeing. He spoke of having "Convulsions" when hypoglycemic and other Quality of life issues, true, but while *I* as much as anyone, would want to see diabetes cured, I would not wish to put a child, a young adult or anyone otherwise reasonably healthy through the rigours of a transplant of islet cells just to be free of Insulin injections.

    The term they used; "Insulin-Free" bothered me as well. Right now, in the biological sense, we Type 1's ARE "Insulin-Free"…. That's why many of us have to pay thru the nose and inject the stuff! <G> "Injection-Free"? "Pump-Free"? Maybe. But what drugs is this guy now on and what do THEY cost?

    While I am not a doctor, I only play one in Science Fiction RPG, Anti-rejection drugs would seem to be a drastic lifestyle change. it is like imposing a weaker immune system on one's self. In a sense, a self-imposed case of AIDS (Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome). Taking steps to avoid infections, illnesses, etc is only common sense, but if one is dealing with a weakened immune system, this would be pretty hard to do.

    Of course, if one has little or nothing left to lose, They are facing organ failure, and possible death, this is a no-brainer. One at least has the option of an islet cell transplant.
    *IF their insurance agrees
    *IF they have the financial resources
    *IF they have a decent support network of Health care, family and friends…

    They would probably do quite well after the transplant.

    In my opinion, the Islet cell transplant is only the first step of many in the process to actually cure this burdensome condition.

    • Rebecca Hillquist

      I think that people with diabetes need hope for an eventual cure as David Martin (you referred to him as the gentleman) has explained it may be a practical cure in 10 years. That means that my newly diagnosed 11 year old daughter will have something to hope for in the future even if it is not available to her right now. Hope for a cure makes all of the suffering that she is experiencing because of this terrible disease a little more tolerable. Kudos to KTLA for reporting on current advances.

  • Debora Martin

    My name is Debbie and I am Dave's sister. My heart goes out to all of you who struggle with Diabetes and to your families. I agree with my brother as I believe there will be a cure for Diabetes someday soon. I have watched my diabetic brother most of my life. I have felt the despair and helplessness watching him go into his insulin reactions. I had dreams when I was a child that he was going into a reaction and I knew everything to do and I would do everthing I needed to do: put sugar cubes in his mouth, start a sugar enema. I would do everything perfectly in my dreams as there was no room for error. And those dreams carried on into my adult life. I guess I was practicing forthe day when a real emergency happened and I needed to take control of the reaction. Maybe my dreams were just my way of dealing with the situation. My grandfather's dream was for Dave to have a Pancreatic transplant. I believe he would be so pleased if he were here today. We are so grateful. Modern technology rocks! :)

  • David Martin

    To All
    Here are something's you might want to know about me. I don't have anything wrong with me except I get excited real easy and my blood sugars would drop from say 125 to 35 in 15 minutes and when I dropped that fast no pump monitoring system would read the drop that quick. I only take 1/3 of the anti-rejection drugs than a person having any organ transplant which is a huge difference but you are right the drugs can be bad. Right now my digestive system has improved my blood veins in my eyes have gotten better so yea what will the anti-rejection drugs do and thats what my study is about because they know Islet Cells work and at 55 years old I feel I can be that Guinea pig to help find the true cure. For my health when i had the first transplant they put me on high levels of vitamins and I seam to do fine. I can't eat unhooked vegetables so I cooked vegetables. Yes the medication is high but do you know what it is like to worry about ware your at on that roller coster ride each minute of the day. Hey there is not enough islet cells to go around so they are harvesting pigs to use their cells and you know what pig insulin kept we alive for years. Going back to the cost of medication the medical field is loosing money on Diabetes and basically breaking the system. So it is a big push to find cures for all types of Diabetes. The transplant is not even done in a surgery room but a x-ray room and you are awake during the one hour procedure and all it is is a IV running to your portal vein which they stick the IV in. It reminds me of a plumber snaking a camera through your chest area. Then you wait 20 minutes for the IV to drain into your Vein. They remove it when done and you watch the next 6 weeks you continue to drop you insulin level. I really don't call this surgery. I was back to work within a week but no heavy lifting. I read about a military man that got shot in the pancreas in Afghanistan they took his islet cells from him and transplanted them into his liver and it saved his life and since he wasn't a Diabetic he does not take anti-rejection. Just this alone makes me proud to be a Guinea pig.
    God Bless you all

  • dejahthoris78

    When my son was first dx I was all hyped about cures. Then I became cynical (especially about all those really lucky cured this article makes me dare to hope again.. a little:)

    • Cocoakita

      Yes those cured mice weren't the mice they have now which are called humanized mice which are mice that have human Stem Cells added to them which supposely anything that works on a Humanized mice should work on Humans which is helping to find a cure faster. You are probally wondering how i know all this but it is due to spending 4 days with the top Diabetic Researchers in the world for the last three years that City of Hope puts on and also I work at University California Irvine which is the top research University in the United States.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.