Diabetic Hitchin man ‘on brink of death’

On Wednesday, national diabetes charity JDRF went to Parliament to lobby the Government for increased funding towards finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Lee Kettle spoke to Hitchin man Owen Dunkley, who told how the condition once left him on the brink of death.

WHEN Owen Dunkley was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the young age of 8, like most diabetics he didn’t know what difference it would make on his life.

At first, Owen, of Sunnyside Road, grew to understand the condition and saw injections become a part of his usual routine.

But as time moved on, things took a turn for the worse, leaving Owen moments away from death during a three-month coma.

It all started when the supermarket worker hit puberty at 11-years-old.


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Owen, 24, said: “Basically, from the age of 11 to 16 I was always having problems, I was always in and out of hospital as it just went beserk.

“Eventually it became so bad that I had kidney problems and my veins started to collapse as well.”

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Owen was rushed to hospital, where a portacath was put into his chest that connected a drip to his main artery.

However, as the months went by, Owen- who was 15 at the time- had to overcome several hurdles that put his life at risk.

“I remember one time being so ill that I had to go to a hospital in London and I slipped into a coma,” he said.

“When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was but saw my mum sitting next to my bed.”

It was his mum who delivered the crushing news to her son- Owen had been in a coma for three months after his blood sugar level rose to a staggering 77.9.

A human’s usual blood glucose level is between four and seven millimoles per litre.

Doctors told Owen it should have killed him, but the portacath had allowed insulin to be pumped into his system at a quicker speed.

After coming around in hospital, the car enthusiast was put on a new insulin - and Owen believes this has sorted his blood sugars out ever since.

He said: “I have grown to having diabetes but it does get me down every now and again.

“I get annoyed sometimes and I have my down days. My dream is to have a pancreas transplant and get rid of diabetes so I can live life to the full.”

Owen was only eight-years-old when he was diagnosed with the condition, which is autoimmune and sees the body fight off cells that allow the pancreas to make insulin. Insulin breaks down sugars in the food, and without it, diabetics are at risk of going into a coma.

Type 1 diabetes, which affects an estimated 350,000 people in the UK, is currently incurable.

The supermarket worker now injects insulin four times a day, and admits that growing up with the condition was tough.

He said: “I hated having diabetes when I was at school. I remember always carrying around dextrose tablets in my lunch box just in case I felt low. Everyone knew of my condition and I felt different to all the other children.”

After a near-death experience however, Owen admits that he is now on top of managing his diabetes.

He said: “My family have made me realise it’s not that bad at all.

“You just have to look after yourself and make sure you eat properly and do your injections and tests on time.

“I’ve learnt over the years to work with my diabetes so I can control it and enjoy life as it is.”

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