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Greer's OC: Film aims to shed light on diabetes

December 21, 2011|By Greer Wylder

A year ago, my editor at this paper was nice enough to let me write about the five-year anniversary of one of my four sons being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Writing about a devastating diagnosis was cathartic, and now I have a positive update.

Diabetes continues to be a daily struggle for my Tristan, now 20, and a constant worry for everyone close to him. But I'm now an executive producer of "Patient 13," the first documentary in production that will take an in-depth look at Type 1 diabetes, which prevents patients from producing insulin, and efforts to find a cure.

The groundbreaking film recently drew the attention of well-known street artist (and Type 1 diabetic) Shepard Fairey, who is famous for his Obama "Hope" campaign poster.

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"I support art that inspires change and awareness," Fairey said. "The 'Patient 13' documentary deserves all the support people can give it, bringing world attention to finding a cure for diabetes."

We just raised $50,000 for the documentary and recently kicked off fundraising at the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.

The cameras will keep rolling at upcoming clinical trials at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles and during the making of the Islet Sheet, a potential cure for Type 1 diabetes, in San Francisco and at UC Irvine.

Our nonprofit's goals are to cut a trailer to raise $1 million in the next round of funding, including through grants from foundations, and release the feature length documentary in 2013.

As prevalent as Type 1 diabetes is, it's really a misunderstood disease, and is constantly confused with Type 2 diabetes, which can be cured and more easily managed in many patients.

Surprisingly, there hasn't been a powerful film made to shed the light on Type 1. And it's needed now more than ever.

Type 1 (and Type 2) diabetes are on the rise in the United States. There are about 3 million people who have Type 1, and their annual medical tab in the U.S. alone is $220 billion.

"Patient 13" is being made by two award-winning documentary filmmakers, Lisa Hepner (a 20-year Type 1 diabetic) and her husband, Guy Mossman.

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