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10-year-old boy becomes first child in Indiana to receive life-changing diabetes treatment

Indiana boy gets new federally approved diabetes treatment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indiana family has taken a leap of faith at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis to help their 10-year-old son in the fight against Type 1 diabetes.

Gemi and Kelli Ozdemir know the complications of Type 1 diabetes all too well. The couple has four children, two of whom have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“Diabetes is so hard. It is every minute of every day. It doesn’t leave our mind. It doesn’t leave our kids’ minds, and all of our kids are athletes. They’re all very active and the older two are managing diabetes 24 hours a day. It’s a struggle,” Kelli Ozdemir, the children’s mother, said.

Now, their son Colin will be the first child in the state to receive a new treatment called Tzield, which is used to delay the onset of the disease.

Dr. Jamie Felton, a pediatric endocrinologist at Riley, explains how Type 1 diabetes works.

“When you have Type 1 diabetes, the cells in your immune system that normally fight infection decide that the cells that make insulin look foreign and start to attack them and so what this drug does is it interferes with the signals those cells are getting to attack the pancreas,” Felton said.

Felton says the new drug is a life-changing treatment that can possibly stave off the disease for several years.

Now, the Ozdemirs are fighting to keep their son Colin from having to get insulin by using Tzield.

“We’ve gone so long with diabetes in our family that the idea that Colin can live a childhood without diabetes is huge,” Kelli said. “For (the kids) to keep their blood sugar in check is so hard and Colin now can just go play sports and not think about it. The girls have to stop what they’re doing and give themselves insulin, or back off insulin, or eat a snack.”

The drug was recently approved by the FDA for patients eight years and older.

“One of the most difficult things about this treatment is identifying people that can benefit, and so Colin’s family being willing to talk about it and talk about their experiences is really going to benefit the people that may not be aware of the therapy,” Felton said.

“Hopefully, Colin paves the way with these interviews, and people talking about him and seeing this stuff will pave the way,” Gemi said.

Colin’s parents say they are not only working to uplift their kids, but they also want to encourage others to get screened to assess their risk of diabetes.