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Kelli Oliver...Helping to Change History
Kelli Oliver became involved in TrialNet research when her brother, Dean, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 13. She was only 10 years old herself. From then on, every six months she would go to the University of Florida (UF) to get screened.
“We had a grandmother with type 1 diabetes who died from the complications of the disease,” explains Kelli. “So we witnessed the possible side effects of not regulating it."
“Our pediatric endocrinologist at Shand’s Medical Center, Dr. Desmond Schatz, was great. I never minded being screened. Because I got an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) every six months, I was aware of my slow progression toward type 1. I came to terms with it.”
About eight months ago, after taking her OGTT, Kelli was contacted by Jessica Ferguson, recruitment coordinator at UF. Kelli’s numbers were up and she needed to be retested. However, Kelli, now 23 years old, had moved to Boston to attend nursing school. The team at UF referred her to the closest TrialNet site, Joslin Diabetes Center.
“When I retested, the numbers came back high again,” explains Kelli. “They told me about a two-week infusion study at Yale. I was worried about the logistics with work and school, but I also realized the seriousness of my test results.”
Kelli completed the preliminary screening for the AntiCD-3 Prevention Study and met all criteria. After reading about the study and meeting with the research team, she decided to participate.
“With the benefits of possibly helping slow down the progression of the disease, helping others, and seeing how others helped my brother, how could I not? If I can take any precautionary step for my health or help others, it’s totally worth it to me,” she explains.
Kelli tells how well informed she was prior to each step of the study. “They explained everything, and Dr. Herold told me if I had any question or concern, I could call him directly,” said Kelli. “I went in for the two-week infusion and went back for the follow-up visits. The infusion took only 30 minutes a day, and then I was observed for several hours afterward.”
“Everyone was so accommodating and so nice, and I felt like what I was doing was groundbreaking and important,” says Kelli. “We all have the same goal—to find a way to prevent type 1 diabetes. If we can prevent it, we can cure it. That is so awesome!”
Kelli adds, “One day, when I decide to settle down and have kids, I want to point to that section in the history book that talks about finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and say I was part of that. I helped change history for the better.”