CBS4 News at 10 p.m. is airing a special series of reports called the 12 Days of Christmas nightly through Dec. 24, featuring local neighborhoods and families in need who have been helped by the community and area non-profit organizations. The following report spotlights the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – When someone gets diagnosed with diabetes, it usually affects everyone in that person’s family to one degree or another.
The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes is well known across the country for its work with patients who have the potentially fatal disease and their families.
Ellie White, 10, is one such patient. She looks just like any other child her age, but she has been learning how to live with diabetes ever since she was diagnosed at age 3. The diagnosis came after she got sick while on a camping trip with her family.
“I finished eating a lot of s’mores. That night I was drinking a lot and I was wetting the bed, the sleeping bag, and we had no clue what was wrong,” she said.
Doctors did. Ellie was referred to the Barbara Davis Center, where she and her parents got a crash course in diabetes education.
It wasn’t easy at first.
“It was different for us because we had no clue what it was,” her mother Beth told CBS4. “No one in my family has it. We had some trouble finding out how to control it.”
Diabetes is a disease where a person has high blood sugar either because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or because cells don’t respond to the insulin produced. In Ellie’s case, she also has Wolfram’s syndrome, a rare disorder that caused her diabetes and could also significantly shorten her life.
“It’s really hard because — especially when (my blood sugar goes low) — because I don’t feel right and it’s hard for me to communicate properly,” Ellie said.
For now Ellie has checkups every three months at the Barbara Davis Center. There, she learns that she’s not alone.
“Doctors here are optimistic that in the next 10 years they will be one step closer to finding a cure,” Dr. Georgeanna Klingensmith said.
With the knowledge that her life could be cut short by her disease, Ellie is making sure to accomplish all her dreams now. One such dream was dancing with her dance group on the TV show America’s Got Talent.
She hopes her story will encourage others to live life to the fullest.
“Live their dreams as soon as they can, while they still can. Don’t let life threatening obstacles stop you,” Ellie said.
Scientists at the Barbara Davis Center are constantly doing research to find a cure for diabetes. Visit childrensdiabetesfoundation.org for information on how you can help, and how you can help families afford the costly medical equipment that comes with being a diabetes patient — like pumps and insulin. You can also call (303) 863-1200.