The death of a boy with diabetes: lessons learnt

Last week, we encountered the tragic news of the death of a youth with type 1 diabetes supposedly healthy, very active and enthusiastic. It came as a shock and surprise to all of us. Though not a patient of our hospital, he used to regularly communicate with us for type 1 diabetes related social causes.

Initially the impression was the 30 year old otherwise healthy boy who himself was a leader encouraging and energizing people with type 1 diabetes, died during sleep due to hypoglycemia. With desperation and depression at the loss of the dearest friend and leader, children and young adults with type 1 diabetes were in a state of panic and we had a hard time consoling those who were enquiring via the internet and phone. On day 2, the unbelievable happened. We received the information that the youth died not because of hypoglycemia but from an unproven therapy.This was not the first time he had gone against science. A couple of months back, he had gone to another area in Kerala for a 'sweet' based therapy but realised the mistake. But this time, it appeared that he discontinued insulin completely while undergoing some unproven unscientific treatment for diabetes at another part of Kerala. What a loss! A brilliant young man so loving and cheerful and with unmatched leadership qualities and many dreams for supporting children with type 1 diabetes fell prey to this!

What a paradox!! Yes, even educated intelligent human beings, when they are desperate pricking all the time, managing low and high sugars and with unavoidable mood swings; many a time the disease a barrier to marriage and unaffordable expenditure may succumb to delightful promises by the quacks. Such therapies will have psychological impact similar to placebo and may work in type 2 diabetes for a few days. But unfortunately discontinuation of insulin in type 1 is a fatal decision. I'm sure that all doctors treating diabetes will have several examples similar to this. But, we often keep quiet. Silence could be because of intense fear, lack of time or lack of evidence.

In this modern era - 93 years after the discovery of insulin and with proven and safe medications and devices for diabetes, why are such quacks still capable of mesmerising the masses? It is our sincere request to the patients and public to follow only authorized scientific treatment guidelines for diabetes. Any medication used to treat diabetes should have undergone several years of clinical trials with known effects, side effects and drug interactions.

Do believe only in science. Damage to kidney, heart, liver and other organs are not the side effects of approved modern medicines. It is a result of uncontrolled diabetes.

The fear should be for not treating the disease and not towards proven drugs. Anecdotes on cure of diabetes could be fascinating and exciting but catastrophic at the end.

To resolve the anxiety, shock and depression of fellow friends with type 1 diabetes, we believe it is our responsibility to provide you this information that their dearest leader did not die of a low sugar during sleep but from a reason not to be scared but cautious.

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