Happy holidays to the Vallecalle family, who are rejoicing in the fact their baby girl is cured of the rare disease, hyperinsulinism. Not only that, but they finally get to go home and spend Christmas by a cozy tree rather than in the hospital. The Vallecalle family has been supporting baby Ella since her birth in October to fight disease that increases secretion of insulin. With a fantastic referral to a local hospital, they can finally feel relieved. To learn more about hyperinsulinism, click here.
Doctor Paul Thornton, the medical director of Hyperinsulinism Center at Cook Children’s Medical Center was ready to do anything to help once he heard about Ella. The center is known for being ahead of their time, having found lots of success curing patients with congenital hyperinsulinism. A surgeon goes inside the patient to see which part of the pancreas is producing an excessive amount of insulin, and if the lesions are removable, they perform it right then and there. Quite surprisingly, that’s all it takes to completely cure someone diagnosed with this disease.
The use of the FDA approved the drug 18F DOPA has allowed this center to reach newfound heights. This drug, when used alongside a PET-CT scan, allows them to identify lesions in the pancreas, which are often removable by a skilled surgeon.
It’s a huge change and something the center is indeed proud of. Back in the day before such advancements, patients living with this disease would be hospitalized for one to two months, most likely ending with pancreas removal. Then, that patient would be subject to early onset of diabetes around the youthful age of 15 years old. It’s unbelievable what advancements have been made. While it’s great to see success stories, not every family with hyperinsulinism gets the happy outcome they deserve. Yet, rest assured, if any center is on their way, it’s the Hyperinsulinism Center at Cook Children’s Medical Center.