Teenager from Georgia is one of the initial recipients of treatment that can delay the onset of type 1 diabetes

A 15-year-old from West Georgia has become one of the pioneering patients to undergo a groundbreaking medical treatment aimed at slowing down the progression of type 1 diabetes.

Ella Velez, a patient at Piedmont Columbus Regional, has recently received TZIELD infusions, a prescribed medication aimed at preventing the body’s autoimmune process from disrupting insulin production.

According to Piedmont Columbus Regional, they are among the first facilities in the United States to offer drug infusions that can delay the onset of type 1 diabetes by two to seven years.

“The onset of type 1 diabetes can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. Once a person becomes symptomatic and reaches the full-blown clinical stage, the progression of the condition is irreversible,” explained Dr. Steven Leichter, an endocrinologist. He further emphasized, “If you are in Stage 3, you will require insulin for the rest of your life, as your body is unable to produce enough on its own. Having more time can be beneficial in terms of preparing for the future.”

Ella Velez receives 14 days of TZIELD infusions at Piedmont Columbus. According to a statement from the hospital, starting in fall 2024, the Bill and Olivia Amos Children’s Hospital will include the treatment as part of its regular medical services.

Her family has a personal experience with diabetes, particularly her 14-year-old brother Alex who has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as per her family’s account.

Ella’s family stated that she underwent autoantibody testing following her brother’s diagnosis and the results came back positive. However, after a span of two years, her health began to deteriorate to the extent that she was at risk of developing diabetes.

According to Ella’s father, Luis Velez, Alex, who is 14 years old, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2019. After his diagnosis, Alex took part in clinical trials for this treatment.

“I’m just your average teenage girl,” Ella said with a smile. “I love being involved in gymnastics, staying active, and being a part of my church community. Oh, and did I mention that I’m homeschooled too? It’s been such a great experience for me.” She paused for a moment, a look of gratitude on her face. “I owe a lot to my brother and the incredible team at Piedmont. They’ve worked tirelessly to make all of this possible for me, and I’ll be forever grateful.”

Piedmont states that TZIELD is specifically designed for patients aged eight and above who have Stage 2 type 1 diabetes. This refers to individuals who possess two or more type 1 diabetes autoantibodies, exhibit abnormal blood sugar levels, and do not have type 2 diabetes.

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MBS Staff
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