Megan Darcy found out she had diabetes the hard way.
She went into a diabetic coma. Time was of the essence. She was rushed to San Joaquin Community Hospital in her hometown of Bakersfield. Doctors diagnosed her with juvenile, or Type 1, diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases in children. It is estimated that one in every 600 children in the U.S. develops juvenile diabetes. This happened in October 2003, when Megan was only seven years old.
The unconscious patient was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Central California - just north of Fresno – to receive specialized pediatric care from Endocrinologist Dr. Swati Banerjee. Children’s multidisciplinary treatment team is highly experienced in the care of young diabetic patients. As soon as Air George, Children’s Hospital’s transport helicopter, touched down, Dr. Banerjee sprang into action.
Megan was stabilized and then hospitalized for four days. Dr. Banerjee started a treatment regime that brought Megan’s blood sugar level within normal ranges. When she came out of the coma – her family at her bedside – the first thing she asked for was one of her favorite foods, cottage cheese and peaches.
“Dr. Banerjee is wonderful,” says her great-grandmother, Trudie Gregory. “The doctors and nurses were all right there, everyone was so helpful. You couldn’t ask for a better hospital.”
Type 1 Diabetes is the result of the body’s failure to produce insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to enter the cells of the body to provide fuel. When glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood causing the body’s cells to starve to death. This is the result of an autoimmune process in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas.
Now 10 years old, Megan takes daily insulin injections and regularly monitors her blood sugar levels. She demonstrates with a quick prick from her pocket-size glucose monitor.
“One-hundred and nine,” she says positively, after reading her blood sugar level on the small monitor. “My range is 70 to 150 now.”
She continues to visit the Hospital’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Practice every three months, where Dr. Banerjee monitors her condition. An accredited American Diabetes Association Center of Excellence, the Practice specializes in diagnosis and management of children with diabetes or endocrine disorders.
Besides pausing to monitor her glucose regularly, Megan is constantly on the go. When she’s not involved in Girl Scouts, she’s busy giving her dog Shaggy lots of affection. Swimming and shopping are also high priorities, particularly at the Build-A-Bear Workshop.
“I’m a Build-A-Bear fanatic,” exclaims Megan. “I have 14!”
With her condition under control, the soon to be 6th grade student at McKee Elementary School is more popular than ever. “I like to talk a lot,” she says, smiling. But don’t let the social butterfly fool you. In school, she excels academically, earning A’s and B’s in class.
“Mostly A’s,” says her great-grandfather, James Gregory. “Her great-grandmother keeps her going.”
And the academic all-star has a plethora of awards and achievements to prove it, from Honor Roll certificates to Perfect Attendance honors.
With her personality and brains, along with the excellent medical care she receives at Children’s, Megan will surely catapult herself into a successful future.
Story Sponsored by: Cardinal Health
Photo Sponsored by: Earl & Muriel Smittcamp