Dual kidney-pancreas transplant at Cleveland Clinic transforms woman’s life

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CLEVELAND-At just seven years old, Alana Burns became a Type-1 diabetic.

"I went into a coma and my parents rushed me to the hospital and there they actually evaluated me and found that my blood sugar was over 12-hundred."

For three decades, Alana managed her disease through daily self-administered blood tests and constant use of an insulin pump attached to her right side.

But earlier this year, her health took a turn for the worse.

" I was actually living in Chicago. My kidney function decreased.I went to a physician and was like what's going on?"

After previously losing her brother to kidney disease, Alana’s kidneys and pancreas were failing.

The Las Vegas resident would travel to Cleveland, ultimately meeting the qualifications for a rare, dual kidney-pancreas transplant.

Doctor Alvin Wee, head of the clinic’s kidney transplant program, performed the operation in March of this year.

Dr. Wee said, "It affects all the small blood vessels, which includes the kidney. That is what happened with Alana.The diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease. Patients who wait for kidney/pancreas get the organs sooner than people who needs the kidney alone."

While the surgery was a success, Doctor Wee says the 44-year old is not completely in the clear, since the body is programmed to reject transplanted organs.

But Alana, a Michigan State University basketball Hall of Famer and beloved daughter and sister says, for now, she will live in the moment.

"There are transplants that have lasted 40, 50 years, so I was like, why not me!"

Alana is currently a medical research program manager, but her profession will now transition into 'transplant research.’

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