A WOMAN with Type 1 diabetes who had to test her blood sugar up to 15 times a day has told how an innovative transplant therapy has transformed her life.

Kathryn Hand, who had islet cell transplantation in December 2016, met with Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick to mark the start of Organ Donation Week.

The 51-year-old from Kirkcaldy, is one of 51 type 1 diabetes patients who have benefited from islet therapy, since the first ever islet transplant took place in 2011 at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The transplant, which involves extracting islet cells from a donor pancreas and implanting them into a patient’s liver, can be successful in restoring hypoglycemic awareness and reducing dependence on insulin, leading to life-changing results.

Throughout Organ Donation Week, which runs until Saturday, the ways in which organ donation has transformed lives will be highlighted in a bid to encourage people to consider joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, and share their decision with their family.

Continuing to increase registrations is vital, as less than 1% of deaths in Scotland happen in circumstances where the person is able to donate their organs. Hand said: “The islet transplant has completely transformed my life. The complications of my diabetes were so severe I had to test my blood glucose up to 15 times a day.

“I also had no awareness of when I was going to go into hypoglycaemia, which was a constant worry.

“My husband was terrified of leaving me alone for long periods of time, especially when he was working night shift.

“Since the transplant, that daily worry about my blood sugar dropping or the amount of insulin I have to take has gone, which is just incredible. I’ll never stop being grateful to the person who made the normality I now have possible.”

FitzPatrick said: “It’s vital we continue to raise importance of the need for families to talk about organ and tissue donation. Not only is it lifesaving, but as Kathryn’s story highlights, it can be life-changing.

John Casey, clinical adviser for organ transplantation in Scotland, said: “This is an important step in the treatment of diabetes in Scotland. We need more people to sign up to the NHS organ donor register so that more lives can be saved and turned around.”

To join the NHS organ donor register, visit weneedeverybody.org