Hawaii's youngest diabetes advocate heads to Congress

Aaron Tsuchitori
Aaron Tsuchitori

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Approximately 10 thousand people in Hawaii live with type-1 diabetes. It usually strikes in childhood and lasts a lifetime because there's no cure.

Hawaii's youngest advocate for type-1 diabetes research is preparing to go to Capitol Hill - to talk to Congress about getting more funding for the disease. Aaron Tsuchitori loves sailing classes, Lego, and raising awareness about the disease he's had since the age of two.

"I want to get the best treatment or hopefully, a cure for diabetes because it's going to change the life of a lot of people - thousands of people in Hawaii have diabetes," says Aaron.

The Hanaha'ouli sixth grader will be traveling to Washington, DC this week - as Hawaii's delegate for the Juvenile Diabetes Children's Congress. He'll be talking to leaders on the Hill, including Hawaii's lawmakers. He was selected after putting together a scrapbook of his life.

"This is all the supplies that I need," he says, as he shows us a picture in his scrapbook. In it, he's got his arms full. "All the injection sets, the alcohol swabs, just kind of everything!"

While type-2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder and far more common, type-1 is an auto-immune disease. A patient's pancreas stops producing insulin - a hormone that helps people get energy from food. To survive, patients with type-1 diabetes require daily, multiple injections or a pump that continually infuses insulin into the body.

"This is a syringe supply for a week. One week!" Aaron holds up about 50 syringes. He used to get six injections a day, but now, he uses a pump - which allows him more freedom. The 11 year old also has to test his blood sugar several times a day with a prick.

His mother, Jill Tsuchitori, explains, "The thing about the treatment of diabetes, it's improved but it's very difficult, still. It's very difficult to give the right doses of insulin. You give too little, you're (numbers are) going to run high - you feel sick. You give too much, you're going to run low. You might pass out."

While in Washington, Aaron will be side-by-side with actress Mary Tyler Moore - an advocate who's had the disease for about 40 years. And of course, he hopes to meet another son of Hawaii, President Obama, when he tours the White house.

In the next week, this little guy knows he has a big job to do - walking the halls of Congress so that someday, there will be a cure.

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