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20th December 2021 Latest News

A New Beginning – Diabetes Free

Peter Illingworth

For 53-year-old Peter, health issues began from an early age. He first began developing signs of type 1 diabetes in primary school and due to a lack of research and awareness, he remained undiagnosed until he was 15 years old.

“I was coming home with the shakes and the doctor back in those days wasn’t sure what it was because it was unheard of,” Peter said.

Interestingly, it was an accident in high school that led to the discovery of his type 1 diabetes. Peter stepped on a loin chop bone, and it went straight through his foot.

“I got rushed to hospital where they thought I was allergic to morphine so they flew me to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH). I was in a coma for two days, they thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said.

 “I was diagnosed and became insulin dependent when I was just 15 years old.”

At the age of 34, Peter unfortunately needed amputations which began with his toes and then his right leg in 1999.

His left leg was eventually amputated in 2010 leaving Peter now with two prosthetic legs.

“My kidney failure happened after my second leg amputation,” Peter said.

“I was put on dialysis for six months which wasn’t working and I was coming home with chronic headaches. It was a really bad point in my life.”

Peter underwent a kidney transplant at the RAH, performed by Professor Toby Coates, whom Peter had been seeing for a few years prior.

“Luckily I’m a rare blood type and I had a very successful kidney transplant.

“Prof Coates was extremely happy with my progress after my transplant and he was then willing to do a pancreas transplant.

“We got in touch with Monash Hospital in Melbourne and they agreed to do the procedure as it cannot be done here in Adelaide.

“Now I am no longer a diabetic, I have the freedom of not having to take insulin each and every day.

“I am on anti-rejection drugs from the pancreas transplant and am on the lowest dosage, which can give me an extra 20-30 years more to live. That’s pretty amazing.

“I hope somewhere along the way researchers will be able to prevent diabetes and kidney disease. Transplantation research is such an achievement and I would love if more people could be lucky enough to be cured like me.”

Today, a positive Peter is hitting the burn-out track, determined to help other people like him.

You can join him! On December 17 this year Peter will be raising money with a team at the Adelaide Motor Sport Park. Donations will be taken at the door and go towards research supported by KTDRA. Mark the date in your diary and stay tuned for details on how you can get behind this exciting cause!