Experimental treatment for type 1 diabetes avoids pancreas transplant
by Ilene Raymond Rush, For the Inquirer, Updated: January 2, 2019- 9:14 AM
It was nothing extraordinary: a mom sharing a digital photo of her 4-year-old daughter in a red-velvet dress, striking a ballet pose.
Yet to Melissa Bilotti, 35, and Michael Rickels, medical director of the Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplant Program at Penn Medicine, the moment was anything but ordinary.
During her teens and 20s, Bilotti’s frequent episodes of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugars, due to type 1 diabetes had led to severe episodes that left her passed out, cold.
Typically, hypoglycemia is accompanied by symptoms such as tremors, sweating and heart palpitations that prompt people to eat or drink to raise their blood sugar levels. But Bilotti is among those who do not experience these early warning signs, putting her at even greater risk.