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Peace of mind — priceless

Joanie Videen, with her husband, Brad, dealt with type 1 diabetes for nearly 20 years before receiving life-changing islet and pancreas transplants at the University.

Friends are surprised when Joanie Videen, 54, says it is sleep, not food, that has put her over the moon about her pancreas transplant in July. “It’s the best gift I’ve ever had,” she says. “I can sleep all night.”

While Videen has dealt with diabetes for nearly 20 years, for the past decade she experienced hypoglycemia unawareness, meaning she had none of the warning symptoms that help diabetics recognize when their blood glucose level falls too low.

Because the consequences can be deadly, this special education teacher slept only three hours at a time before waking to an alarm to check her glucose levels.

Since 2004, Videen and her husband, Brad, a University of Minnesota-trained orthodontist, have made 11 separate donations to support diabetes research through the Minnesota Medical Foundation.

“There isn’t a higher-quality medical facility anywhere,” says Joanie Videen, also a U of M alum. “Nothing is comparable to what we have at the University.”

In fact, Joanie Videen has firsthand experience. In 2005, she participated in a University of Minnesota human-to-human islet transplantation clinical trial conducted by the Schulze Diabetes Institute. The transplant resulted in 15 insulinfree months for Videen, but eventually, symptoms returned, and she had a pancreas transplant at the University last summer.

“The University offered me the best care during the islet transplant and again during the pancreas transplant,” she says.

Each year, the Videens carefully determine how much money they are able to donate to diabetes research. Joanie notes that while the tough economy has affected them, “we feel fortunate that we are still able to contribute.”

They hope their contributions will help lead to a cure, possibly through islet cell transplants. And they foresee a day when stem cells taken from a patient’s own skin may become the “ultimate cure,” relieving people of the daily burdens of diabetes.

In the meantime, Joanie is enjoying her new sense of freedom. “There’s so much mental energy devoted to dealing with diabetes,” she says. “All that is totally gone, and there’s such a feeling of relief and relaxation. I’ve got my independence back.”

By Karin Miller

To support University of Minnesota research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes, please visit www.mmf.umn.edu/diabetes or contact Jean Gorell at 612-625-0497 or j.gorell@mmf.umn.edu.

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