Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Horse with Type 1 Diabetes

Tuesday, 25 November 2008 00:18

His name is ‘Justin Credible.’ He’s one month old, and he’s believed to be the only horse ever documented to have been born with Type 1 Diabetes.

The colt’s owners, who live in Carlisle, say they’re working around the clock trying to keep him alive.
Justin Credible, a Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse born from a world-champion (show-horse, was a surprise to David and Monica Hufana from day one. He was born before his mother seemed ready. Right away, he seemed malnourished; they thought that was because his mother was not producing milk. So they sought help from veterinarian Nathan Slovis, at the Hagyard Equine Medicine Institute.

“He came on in as any other foal that has a lack of calories,” said Dr. Slovis, “We thought, ‘oh, we’re going to get this foal out of here in 48 hours.’”

But that is not what happened. After giving the colt fluids and anti-bodies, the colt’s glucose levels went through the roof. Tests showed signs of an abnormal pancreas; the organ which produces the insulin that regulates glucose. It seemed too small to do the job. The diagnosis: Justin Credible had been born with the Type 1 Diabetes. Dr. Slovis says it is the first documented case of its kind.

They began treating the colt with insulin meant for humans, and his energy has come back.
“He’ll buck, he’ll run, he’ll jump,” said David.

But he’ll never have a normal life. He has seizures, and no freedom to graze through pastures. “Grass is full of sugars, and you know diabetics have to watch their sugar levels,” said Dr. Slovis.

His owners, no longer have a normal life either. Every 4 hours, they draw blood to test his blood sugar levels. Every 8 hours, they give him an insulin injection.

Monica even quit her job as a horse trainer to care for him, as medical costs add up. So far they’ve racked up a $4,000 bill. While David works, Monica makes homemade wreaths which she sells at a Carlisle gallery, for extra money on the side.

“You do fall in love with them, you can’t help but to do it,” said David about his horses.

And they do love the little colt, as if it were their own child. Their hope, is that in time, they won’t be forced to make a difficult decision.

“If his quality of life isn’t what it should be, if he can’t run and be a horse and have a good time, then we obviously won’t continue,” said David.

If the owners are able to keep up with the current treatments, they believe the horse’s life expectancy could be around 10 years. The Hufana’s are looking for donations, which can be made out to their farm in Carlisle, called ‘Sanctuary Farm.’

(Now that's a cause I would give to.)
How does one measure a horse's blood glucose- from the ear, like a cat? (I'd take care of it- I could never euthanize a cat/or dog/whatever just because of the inconvenience of getting it shots)

1 comment:

Jonah said...

Isn't type 1 diabetes autoimmune diabetes?
Frankly, horses almost never get diabetes at all. I was thinking about writing a book on the topic of diabetes accross the species (for kids) and I read that there are only (or were only at the time the book I was reading was written) 77 cases on record of horses having any type of diabetes, and most of them were due to external injury to the panceas.