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Kisses help Coltan cope with diabetes

Posted on 23/04/2010 12:00am

It's up to 17 finger pricks and needle pokes a day for Coltan Daniel. Afterwards, 'he's all smiles,' his mom Meaghan says.

By Jennifer Lang - Cloverdale Reporter
Published: April 23, 2010

When Meaghan Daniel thinks back to last June, she realizes there were signs something was wrong with her baby boy, Coltan.

The good-natured nine-month-old hadn't acting like himself for a few days; he was fussy and nursing more than usual. But when he woke up on June 30 with strange, laboured breathing after a sleepless night, things very quickly got worse.

By 9:30 that morning, Meaghan was frantically dialing the doctor's office to schedule an emergency appointment. And before long they were at Langley Memorial Hospital, where that afternoon health care workers made an alarming discovery.

The little boy was in ketosis, a dangerous condition that can result in coma. It's most commonly associated with type 1 diabetes, where the body cannot produce insulin.

The situation was so grave, he was immediately taken by helicopter to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, where he spent two nights in ICU, then another week in a care wing, as doctors and nurses worked to get his tiny body to accept the life-saving insulin he needed.

On June 13, less than a year since Coltan was diagnosed with type I diabetes, the Kisses for Coltan team will be participating in the annual Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes.

All the proceeds from the Fraser Valley walk go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure. Later that night, there's also a Kisses for Coltan Gala Dinner and Live Auction.

Not only is Coltan the youngest member of his Walk for the Cure team, as far as the family is aware, he is currently the youngest Type 1 diabetic in B.C.

He requires constant blood checks throughout the day. Blood sugar levels that are too high can eventually lead to blindness, kidney failure and loss of limbs - the stuff of nightmares for any parent.

But it's the short-term risks that are really scary: dangerously low blood sugar can to seizures, coma and even death.

"We currently check him every hour to two hours in the day," she said. "And I check him every to to three hours at night as well."
The team is hoping to raise $5 for each kiss Coltan receives in a year - kisses that soothe all the pricks and pokes he endures as an insulin-dependent diabetic.

Coltan's blood sugar is checked with a finger prick at least 12 times day - plus he receives five insulin injections. That's 17 pokes and finger pricks daily and they add up to an ambitious fundraising goal of $31,025, or 6,205 kisses a year.

"People would be surprised that he doesn't react all that negatively," she says. "If you say, it's time to check your numbers, he just comes over. Afterwards, he's all smiles," she says. "We tell him what a good boy he is and give him a big kiss."

Coltan is easy-going, but dealing with his diabetes is serious business. The Daniels tries not to let it overshadow normal family life.

"We try not to make our life revolve around diabetes. We just try to take diabetes along for the ride," Meaghan says. "It's just getting him through each day. And if we get him through that day, Coltan can do anything he wants to in life."

By coincidence, Coltan's grandfather recently donated a kidney to a family friend who's been a Type I diabetic since his 20s and now, in his 60s, is considered to be among the survivors of his generation of diabetics.

"It's kind of a fate thing," Meaghan explains. "Papa Norton gave his kidney to a long-term diabetes survivor and Coltan is the youngest."
Along with sponsoring the walk with cash pledges, the team is asking businesses to donate prizes, gift cards or other contributions.

The dinner and live auction is June 13 at Redwoods Golf Course in Langley. Doors open at 5 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner and a live auction at 7 p.m.Tickets available May 1. More information at kissesforcoltan@shaw.ca.