Wednesday, 28 October 2009


A Message from Steve Hitchins

It’s all about finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is contracted early in life and is an auto-immune disease which means your body’s own immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys the insulin producing cells. It has nothing to do with lifestyle or diet unlike the more common type 2 diabetes.

As many of you know, I have had type 1 diabetes for 40 years. Because it doesn’t kill you when you contract it, many people seem to think that the discovery of insulin injections in 1922 was a cure. It isn’t. It’s a treatment for a lifelong chronic disease which reduces life expectancy (now by 12-15 years on average) and produces serious and damaging complications later in life including blindness, kidney disease and significantly increased threat of coronary heart disease. In addition living with four or more injections a day and half a dozen blood sugar tests is a challenge for any adult let alone very young children. This treatment is a life sentence as well as a life saver! It's a lifestyle I've endured personally for those 40 years.

For three years now I have been involved in raising money to research a cure, chairing the UK branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I sit on the International Board also. This year JDRF intends to raise and spend over $170 million on medical research around the world to find a cure. We are also increasingly successful in persuading governments to contribute from their own medical research budgets. The financial case is unchallengeable. Finding a cure to diabetes will have a dramatic and permanent reduction for NHS budgets. Type 1 with its length of sentence and its difficult complications is an expensive disease for the NHS. We believe more cash is pent on type 1 than on the more common type 2. Now many respected and senior scientists believe a cure is a very realisable ambition.

World Diabetes Day is November 14th which this year is a Saturday and for much of the week before there will be events around the country marking the day. You may see a number of prominent public buildings (including the European Parliament, the UN building and the London Eye) highlighted with blue lights – our colour!

And this is where I want your help! On Monday November 9th with around twenty young children all with type 1 diabetes I shall be delivering a giant syringe filled with e-mail messages addressed to the Prime Minister asking the government to increase research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. We are aiming to collect at least 10,000 messages. Will you click on this link and spend ten seconds doing your bit? I need these all soon so please respond as soon as possible!!,22S4,AW9UO,6N6X,1

Thank you very much and, if you have another 30 seconds, please consider forwarding this message to your e-mail address book so that they can contribute too. It will make a tremendous difference.

Steve Hitchins, Former Leader of Islington Council

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