(Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008)
VINELAND – In her quest to become what she hopes is “a strong voice for people with diabetes,” a local woman has traveled to Florida this week, taking her burgeoning, Vineland-based radio show on the road.
Kitty Castellini, who astounded doctors after she survived a rare pancreas transplant that effectively cured her of her diabetes, took a weekly slot on local station WLVT 92.1 FM in December. She will try her hand tonight at broadcasting across the country when she meets with the inventor of a groundbreaking treatment for certain sufferers in his Miami research center.
“I asked to interview Dr. Camillo Ricordi because he is world-renowned,” Castellini said by phone Monday from Miami.
Ricordi, who is scientific director of the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Miami, invented the Ricordi chamber, a method of isolating insulin-producing islet cells, which can be transplanted into patients.
A simple letter Castellini wrote to his office received a favorable reply, she said.
In the past two months, Castellini’s impact through a variety of media channels has grown, she says. Her call-in radio show, heard every Tuesday, is now being streamed online for listeners and will launch its own Web site, www.diabeteslivingtoday.com, this morning, she said.
Afflicting an estimated 8 percent of people in the United States, diabetes is still comparatively misunderstood and under discussed, Castellini believes.
A resident of East Vineland, she was three when she was diagnosed with the illness, and by 2002 she was so sick that her frequent blood-sugar fluctuations were detected by her trained seizure dog, a beagle named Jamie.
Four years ago, she was being considered for islet-cell transplant a technique which allows a sufferer to live without insulin injections – but doctors decided she was a good candidate for a pancreatic transplant instead.
Tonight, she will broadcast live from Miami from 8 p.m., with her physician and cohost, endocrinologist Dr. Joseph J. Fallon.