Local woman takes diabetes show on the road

The following is from the February 26, 2008 edition of “The Atlantic City Press“:

(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.