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It feels like a life sentence: A Q&A with a diabetes expert

Transforming diabetes care for kids throughout BC

Dr. Shazhan Amed, head of the Division of Endocrinology at BC Children’s Hospital, is working as part of a team to transform diabetes care throughout the province. We sat down with her to learn more about her team’s work to help improve the lives of kids in BC who are living with diabetes.

Tell us why you're passionate about the work you do

My passion is fueled by directly working with patients and families to gather their perspectives on their diabetes care and integrate their ideas into new ways of delivering care. This allows me to make real and meaningful impact that truly addresses the needs of kids living with diabetes.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes affects 90 percent of kids with diabetes, and is a serious, lifelong disease that can’t be prevented or cured. Unlike type 2 diabetes which can sometimes be managed by a healthy lifestyle, the only way to manage type 1 diabetes is to maintain the right levels of insulin, a hormone that’s essential for the body to produce energy. Without this, the disease can be life-threatening, and can lead to serious complications like heart or kidney disease, blindness and amputations.

What daily challenges do kids face with type 1 diabetes?

Imagine, as a child or teen,enduring four or more finger pricks and multiple insulin injections daily, interrupting activities often to check blood sugar levels, and counting carbohydrates at every meal. No wonder type 1 diabetes can often feel like a life sentence for these kids. With a whole life of wearisome routines ahead of them, they can suffer from emotional stresses like burnout, depression, anxiety and social isolation.

How is your team working to help these families, and improve diabetes care in BC?

Not all kids in BC with type 1 diabetes live close by to the expert care and support they need to keep their medical condition under control. We’re determined to change this by giving all families in BC close access to expert pediatric diabetes care through virtual health, and by providing training, education and resources to community health care providers across BC. We are also committed to giving more kids and families access to the latest diabetes management technologies, and training on how to use them, to help make their day-to-day lives easier and reduce the stress of living with this complicated and lifelong disease.

How is BC Children's Hospital unique when it comes to diabetes care and research?

BC Children’s is a Canadian leader in pediatric diabetes care and research, and has a team of highly trained specialists who are dedicated to providing the best care possible. The expert care we provide, coupled with the latest advancements in diabetes management technology, puts us in an ideal position to transform the way kids who are living with diabetes receive care, here in Vancouver and across the province. But we can’t do this alone. We rely on donations and the support of the community to make this happen.
 

On November 2, 2019, guests at BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s 11th Annual A Night of Miracles Gala came together to help make this vision of transforming diabetes care a reality. Their generosity raised an astounding $742,495. To learn more, visit anightofmiracles.ca.

The video below was played at the gala to highlight how donations will improve care for kids and families with Type 1 diabetes.

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