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A Life Changed Thanks to Research Advancements

Michael Burrows’s life changed after he was diagnosed with pancreatitis, a condition leaving patients in severe pain.

Michael Burrows with family

"Michael was living a poor quality of life after being diagnosed with pancreatitis"

At 26-years-old, Michael Burrows was at the prime of his life, climbing the corporate ladder and making partner at a leading Northern Territory criminal law firm when suddenly he was forced to quit work and fight for his life after being diagnosed with severe pancreatitis.

It was Boxing Day 2013 when Michael was rushed to the emergency room suffering from severe stomach pains. Michael did not expect what followed, ending up in the intensive care unit for 12 days and having both his lungs collapse. His parents rushed to his bedside and were told by Michael’s doctors to expect the worst.

“This was the first of many attacks that followed and because of this I was forced to quit my job and move back to Tweed Heads in New South Wales to be closer to my family,” Michael said.

“After working for seven years and getting to the top of my profession I had to give it all away. If it wasn’t for my family and my fiancé Cara and our daughter, I don’t know where I would be.”

Michael’s battle continued for over four years, the agonising pain was endless and the hospital trips became as frequent as every six weeks where he would stay two weeks at a time.

 “Pancreatitis took everything from me and I ended up with zero quality of life.”

After being told by medical professionals that he had reached the limits of medical science and would need to wait decades for advancements, Michael refused to believe it and desperately searched for answers.

“My parents were ready to sell their house to fund my procedure in America when I came across Kidney, Transplant & Diabetes Research Australia (KTDRA) and Professor Toby Coates’ work,” Michael said.

“Reading Chelsea Holloway and Gary Wanganeen’s stories on the KTDRA website who both had pancreatitis and speaking with Prof Coates gave me the hope I needed.

I didn’t know how I could continue living with constant pain.”

In July this year Michael underwent a pancreatic islet auto-transplant procedure at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The two-part procedure begins with the pancreas being surgically removed, before it is flown to Melbourne where the islet cells (insulin-producing cells) are extracted and injected back into the liver. This procedure truly is lifesaving!

Professor Toby Coates and Michael Burrows


“I feel 100 per cent better than I ever have since having the operation. I cannot thank Prof Coates, his team and KTDRA enough for giving me my life back.

“Cara and I are expecting a child next year and I’m so excited about what the future holds now I can continue with my life pain free!”



Thanks to your support, KTDRA in partnership with The Hospital Research Foundation is thrilled to be directing $330,000 in funding to ensure six more pancreatic islet auto-transplant procedures can take place at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and continue to save the lives of people like Michael living with severe and hereditary pancreatitis.