The Power of One: The Story of Lee Ducat, Champion for Diabetes Research

May 23, 2010

Today, those with Type 1 Diabetes recognize Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International as a nonprofit giant that pumps continual funding into diabetes research. They have relied on and even joined forces with the Foundation for decades both to raise awareness for the disease and to receive key support in living with their condition. But 40 years ago, there was no Foundation and only a fraction of the organized support for people living with the disease.

So how did the organization get started? Would you believe it was one determined mother who kicked off the well-known organization with a cocktail party?

In 1966, U.S. mother Lee Ducat’s nine-year-old son Larry was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. After facing the initial shock and devastation of such news and learning to help her son manage the disease, Ducat eventually asked her son’s physician what she could do to help find a cure. He told her that a good deal more research needed to be done so that new treatments could be developed, or even better, a cure could be found. However, such research required much more financial support than was currently available, he told her.

Ducat began thinking about what she could do to meet that critical need. Not sure where to start, she threw a cocktail party in 1970 for a group of people with a stake in finding new treatments for the disease using a list of clients provided by her doctor. (Check out this great interview she recently did with Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well blog).

About 60 people showed up to her party, everyone who came signed a makeshift membership application, and the Foundation was born. In the organization’s first year, Ducat and her members started other chapters and raised $10,000.The organization eventually became a 501(c)3 voluntary health organization.

From such humble beginnings, Ducat’s foundation has gone on to raise more than $1.4 billion for diabetes research since its inception and the organization continues to raise $100 million annually. The Foundation not only has a board of directors, but also a scientific advisory board. Today, the Foundation has 100 chapters, branches and affiliates located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, India and Israel.

This year, recognizing the 40-year anniversary of the organization’s founding, I hope that we can look to Ducat for inspiration, and remember that one person can make a world of difference.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of Online Nursing Schools .  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:


Medtronic Safety Alert

May 12, 2010

Yes… that is the title of a letter I received from Medtronic Australia a few days ago. No wonder I instinctively reached for my pump and disconnected, even before reading the content of this “urgent” letter.

As it turns out, the supposedly important alert does not seem to be anything other than a simple clarifycation, probably made “urgent” by the need of Medtronic to cover any liability risk. Further to this, the letter is only related to the Continuous Glucose Monitoring capabilities of the Paradigm pump, so the amount of people potentially impacted is very small. Nevertheless all Paradigm users in Australia seem to have received the letter.

In October last year, Medtronic increased the lifespan of it’s sensors to 6 days instead of 3. While new pumps are programed for this change, everyone who got a pump a while ago is still faced with and “End of Sensor” message after 3 days.

The purpose of this latest message from Medtronic is to advise that “you should be aware of the following:

1.- The first sensor alert after 3 days of sensor use may be treated as an advisory reminding you that the sensor will need to be changed in a further 3 days”.

Is this a joke or what?

Ah!, and of course there is a subtle word or warning before the letter concludes:

“The sensor must not be used for more than 6 days as the accuracy of the sensor cannot be guaranteed”

Hmm… let me think… isn’t that the case for the whole life of the sensor.

I think Medtronic should pay more attention to communications with its consumers if they are to live to the expectations of being leaders in that market.