Our research changed Margaret’s life

Posted: 01st December 2021

At SVI, the partnership between our researchers and our donors — between altruism and science — has given life to discoveries that otherwise would not have been possible. 

But there is more work to be done. Almost 150,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year, more than 400 every day. Almost half a million people live with dementia. Every 80 seconds, someone is hospitalised for heart disease, more than 1,000 people each day.

Scientists at SVI believe that science can, and should, make a real contribution to the society it serves, for the good of all.

Recently, we received a heartfelt letter from a man named Kerry Harrigan.

We first met Kerry and his wife Margaret in 2010, when Margaret became one of the first people in Australia to receive an islet transplant — the result of many years of research at SVI.

Islets are the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Philanthropic support from SVI's donors enabled development of the Islet Transplant Program, a new treatment option for people with unstable and difficult-to-treat type 1 diabetes.

Margaret had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the 1970s, when pregnant. Over time, her type 1 diabetes became unstable and forced her to give up many of the joys of her life — including teaching, a job for which she had a real passion. 
Then, in 2010, Margaret was selected for an islet transplant. The islets were extracted from an organ donor here at SVI and, in an Australian first, flown by courier to Adelaide to be transplanted into Margaret.

The effect was life-changing. Margaret was able to take up teaching again and could enjoy time with her family without the many challenges of her medical condition looming over her shoulder. A decade has now passed since her transplant and Kerry’s letter shared news of two major celebrations in their lives — their 50th wedding anniversary and Margaret's 70th birthday — giving credit to the transplant for making them possible.

Kerry and Margaret know first-hand the life-changing power of science and are grateful for it every day. Kerry said in his letter: "After 50 years together, we have much to celebrate and look forward to another 50 years. I can only offer a simple, yet heartfelt, thank you that we are able to continue living our lives together, collecting birthdays and anniversaries."

Without your generous support, outcomes like this would not be possible.

Your support continues to power our efforts in tackling some of the most critical health challenges in society today, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia. There are so many more stories like Margaret’s — people who live every day with the impact of disease, people who need the solutions our scientists are working to provide. 

We urge you to donate to SVI's end-of-year appeal and help improve health outcomes for those in need.