Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (J.D.F.) is a registered trust set up in 1982, by a handful of doctors, and parents of a few insulin–dependent diabetic children. The objective of the foundation is to provide moral support to diabetic children and youth apart from catering to the physical, emotional, psychological and financial needs of its members.
Juvenile Diabetes (also known as Type 1 diabetes or as Insulin–dependent diabetes) is a chronic illness in which the pancreas of the juvenile diabetic becomes non–functional. The probable cause is a viral attack that ruptures the insulin–producing beta islets which causes non–production of insulin, a hormone which is naturally produced by the pancreas to control the level of glucose in the body. It is noteworthy that juvenile diabetes is different from maturity–onset diabetes (Type 2 diabetes) which usually afflicts persons of over forty years of age. In this case, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin due to wear and tear over a period of time. And though the pancreas often secretes insulin, the quantity is not as much as required by the body.
Contrary to this, in the case of juvenile diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all and, therefore, the entire requirement has to be made available to the body externally in order to control blood sugar levels. Presently, insulin injection is the only means through which this can be done and there is no cure as such for juvenile diabetes. Maturity–onset diabetics can live on oral drugs, which is not possible for their juvenile counterparts.
Incidentally, juvenile diabetes was fatal until a few decades ago. Juvenile diabetics were known to live for a maximum period of six months to one year after being afflicted with the disease. It was Dr Grant and Banting who discovered insulin after having experimented the same on diabetic canines. The discovery of insulin is, therefore, a boon to juvenile diabetics as it has gifted them the promise of a fuller and normal life.
Today there are over 500 insulin–dependent juvenile diabetics who are enrolled with the J.D.F. as its regular members. Aged anywhere between a few months to late thirties and some others even older, they have to depend on at least two shots of insulin injection daily, which have to be administered for an entire lifetime for survival apart from daily blood glucose tests and urine sugar tests which are equally mandatory.
Since 18 years now, the foundation has been conducting monthly meetings and annual camps that are aimed at educating the juvenile diabetic and his family. The lectures, which are held in Mumbai every month, revolve around different aspects of a juvenile diabetic’s life and how one should cope with the same. A particular subject is selected at every monthly meet and the same is discussed at length with active participation from the members who are free to raise their doubts and queries. The four–day camp which is usually held at some location in close vicinity of Mumbai is a classroom for practical training in which the juvenile diabetic is given thorough information on various diabetes–related topics which cannot be otherwise taken up satisfactorily at the monthly meetings and which require comprehensive and detailed teaching.
Incidentally, apart from diabetes–education that is received by the members there is a lot of inspiration which they receive, especially the newcomers, who would otherwise look upon their lives as though it had come to a full stop. The parents often think that their child is the “Only” one of his/her kind on earth and the juvenile diabetic too, often tends to give up on life very easily. It is here that the J.D.F. steps in proving to be a major breather giving that much–required relief and reprieve to its members and their families with a mutual exchange of empathy.
The J.D.F. is a voluntary organization and has at the service of its members, diabetologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a diabetes–educator, a counselor, a dietician who work on a honorary basis while the administrative work is by and large handled by its members who serve voluntarily.
The pain that a juvenile diabetic has to put up with goes beyond daily injection pricks. More than the physical pain, it is the condescending and patronizing attitude of society which proves frustrating for the children and youngsters who are otherwise as hale and hearty as any of their non–diabetic counterparts. Juvenile diabetes is not commonly known of in India and it would not be incorrect to conclude that juvenile diabetics are being given a raw deal whether in terms of education, employment, marriage or any other realm of life, for that matter. However, many have today emerged triumphant against all these odds, with their grit, determination and indomitable spirit, and are living lives in an absolutely normal manner.
The J.D.F. is helping its members lead fruitful lives. While some of the juvenile diabetics have become doctors (one among them being a diabetologist), there are other members who have taken up jobs with corporates despite several rejections, others who have branched into business, classical danseuses and a myriad of other professions and vocations; proving that their abilities are on par with just about anybody else, if not better.
The juvenile diabetics are fighting their battle quite swimmingly with help from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. However, there is not much aid being received from any other quarter, whatsoever. Insulin is the only lifesaver for diabetics and its price level has been rising astronomically. The amount that one spends on insulin injections and other diabetes–care–paraphernalia tots up to at least twice as much the sum that one ends up spending on basic necessities as food, clothing and shelter.
‘From tears to smiles’, is the motto that Juvenile Diabetes Foundation has tried to imbibe to its members. The efforts still continue as they have over the last couple of decades. How far the foundation achieves its aim is something that time alone will be able to tell…
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
C/o Dr. S. Y. Kale
B–1, Asawari, 214, Veer Sawarkar Road,
Mahim, Mumbai 400 016.
Tel. No. +91 22 4466697