Allergic to insulin, pancreas transplant gives diabetic teen new lease on life

A rare pancreas transplant at the University of Minnesota is giving a teenage girl her life back after she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and subsequently discovered she was allergic to insulin. 

Emmy Reeves is one of just a handful of people in the world who has the condition, which used to give her severe reactions to the daily insulin she needs to survive. 

“She’d kind of become this half asleep, half awake kid,” her mother, Tiffanie Reeves, said over Skype. "Now she's so happy. She's such a great, happy child right now."

Emmy and her family traveled to Minnesota for the procedure from their native South Carolina to patiently wait more than 200 days for the procedure, which was finally done in February at the U of M Masonic Children's Hospital. They got a call in the middle of the night saying doctors had found a pancreas that was a match, and the next day she was in the operating room. 

She's the youngest person to undergo a pediatric pancreas transplant of this kind in nearly 25 years.

“This was dangerous for her life and her life expectancy was not long without this transplant,” 

Before, she would have to take large amounts of antihistamines to counteract the effects of her insulin, with doctors simply prescribing more and more of the treatments to her and her parent's frustration. 

Now, with a new pancreas and a new lease on life, Emmy's parents say she's thriving.

“She’s the first one to wake up in the morning and the last one to go to sleep," Tiffanie Reeves said. "When my husband asked her about that she said, 'I’ve been asleep for my whole life.'”