It has been 95 years since the discovery of insulin, one of the most exciting medical marvels of the 20th century. For the first time in world history, there was the promise of life after a type 1 diabetes diagnosis.
From a place of privilege that many of us enjoy in developed nations, it is easy to take for granted our access to this miracle drug and the potential it holds for us to live long, healthy lives in spite of a disease intent on ravaging us.
But, if by accident of geography, your children are born in places like Morocco, Uganda, Guatemala, Haiti, Bangladesh, or approximately 50 countries of similar wealth, your child’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis is quite literally a race against a very fast clock.
Without insulin, a child with type 1 diabetes may die within one week.
Estimates from the 2013 IDF Diabetes Atlas (6th Edition) point to there being over 500,000 children worldwide under the age of 15 with type 1 diabetes. Life for a Child, a program of the International Diabetes Federation, estimates that as many as 80,000-100,000 of children in the developing world have barely enough access to insulin to survive, let alone the access to the management tools and self-care practices that would see them thrive. In sub-Saharan Africa, life expectancy for a child with type 1 diabetes is less than one year.
For perspective, that’s roughly 1 in 5 children worldwide who will die from type 1 diabetes due solely to lack of access to insulin – the insulin that is probably stocked in neat, 90-day supply in your refrigerator right now.
This is unacceptable.
But it is also overwhelming. How can you possibly help?
In 2013, a coalition of forces from throughout the online community came together with industry partner Johnson & Johnson to form P4DC, or Partnering for Diabetes Change, a campaign that seeks to press us to bring our talents, resources, and reach to the table to effect change at a higher level. P4DC brings attention to efforts like IDF’s Life for a Child, a program launched in 2010 which serves over 15,000 children in over 48 countries, bringing life-saving insulin, supplies, and clinical care to children in the developing world.
P4DC asks one thing of you in February: “Spare a Rose, Save a Child.”
Instead of a dozen roses for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, send only eleven. For the cost of that absent rose, or about $5, Life for a Child is able to provide as much as a month’s worth of insulin to a child in need. Since the start of Spare a Rose in 2013, with your help, the campaign has raised $55,844 and provided a year of life to more than 1,000 children worldwide.
If we can raise $50,000 this year, it would be enough to provide care for 833 children.
That is 833 children who will not see an early grave. 833 mothers who will not have to hold their child close to their face for one last feel of their warm breath. 833 fathers who will have to choose between not feeding their other four children or burying their son.
There is nothing more noble you can do today than to reach into your pocket and deeper into your heart and consider what you can contribute. As Kerri Sparling, one of the founders of P4DC, often says, “Not everybody has a lot to give, but everybody can give a little.”
You can spare your single rose at sparearose.org or spare the whole bouquet for $60 and you will fund a child’s insulin for one full year. You can also set up recurring monthly transactions. Imagine the family bank ledger reading: paid the rent, paid the electricity, saved a life, paid the phone bill….
I will never forget the story I heard from Life for a Child several years ago about the children who stood at the end of a village road waiting for insulin to arrive from aid workers, crying when a vial fell to the ground and shattered. I weep when I think of those little ones watching that hope and hopelessness pool into the cracks of the dry earth. We are so fortunate, my friends.
Flowers thrive in the soil. Children should be playing above it.
Spare a Rose, Save a Child.
Melissa Lee is tech editor of ASweetLife. She writes the blog SweetlyVoiced.