Endocrinologists already do more for children with type 1 diabetes than their parents can even begin to thank them for. On top of that, these doctors have gone the extra mile to give back to the community in amazing ways.
Jason C. Baker, M.D.
Why he’s a hero: Baker, who has type 1 diabetes himself, started a non-profit group called Marjorie’s Fund to help connect people in developing countries with the resources and education they need to live successfully with type 1 diabetes.
Inspiration: Marjorie’s Fund was named after a young woman living in Uganda who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 3. “I met Marjorie on a mission trip to Uganda,” Dr. Baker recalls. “She was an extraordinary woman who was using her story to help other people. Here was a person who was smart, motivated, who just didn’t have access to enough care.” Tragically, she passed away in July of 2011, before her 30th birthday. “I thought, ‘This is going to play out over and over if we don’t do something,’” says Dr. Baker.
Susan K. Dubois, M.D.
Why she’s a hero: In 2006, Dubois began making yearly medical mission trips to impoverished Haiti, becoming a visiting professor of endocrinology at the Karen School of Nursing in Port-au-Prince. Two years later, she left her private practice to start the nonprofit organization Auxanomen Mission, whose purpose is to provide healthcare to those without insurance in Austin, Texas.
Inspiration: Dubois believes wholeheartedly that all people should have access to the best medical treatments and technology, regardless of their ability to pay. “We provide quality endocrinology and diabetes specialty care to uninsured and underinsured adults at low cost or no cost,” says Dr. Dubois. “We don’t require eligibility screenings or documents that may be difficult to provide. Without the clinic, our patients wouldn’t have medicine or care. They are always so grateful for the services they couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Peter Curran, M.D.
Why he’s a hero: As a member of the board of directors of Health Volunteers Overseas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving healthcare in developing countries by training local doctors, Curran has volunteered at points across the globe from Bhutan to Cambodia to Uganda. For him, volunteering is a family affair: His wife, also a physician, and his daughters serve alongside him on many of his trips. Both husband and wife are currently studying at Dartmouth College in a program aimed at achieving better health outcomes for more affordable costs.
Inspiration: “I think it’s important for these hospitals with really limited means to know that doctors in the U.S. want to help them and spend time there,” says Dr. Curran. “I have seen many changes due to these trips — both to the hospitals and doctors and also to me. Personally, it has been literally life-changing. We struggle with many issues in our healthcare system here, but we are very lucky in many ways. Being able to work with populations with much lower expectations has allowed me to appreciate what we have and focus better on what is important.”
Why she’s a hero: Prior to practicing at Portland Diabetes & Endocrinology Center in Oregon, Wolf spent time volunteering on a medical mission to provide care to an underserved population in Peru. She has volunteered extensively with Gales Creek Camp, a summer camp for children with type 1 diabetes, as well as the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp founded by former NBA player Chris Dudley, who was diagnosed with type 1 at age 16, helping teach kids to manage their diabetes while playing a vigorous sport.
Inspiration: “I have several close family members who developed type 1 diabetes during childhood,” says Dr. Wolf. “I personally know some of the challenges young people with type 1 diabetes face. There are many reasons I went into medicine, but the core was to help people feel better. A week at diabetes camp always reminds me of that. I feel honored and privileged to get to know these kids and support them in any way that I can. The take-home message of camp is that you’re not alone. All people with diabetes, but especially kids, need that recognition and validation. I love seeing kids open up to each other about their shared and unique experiences. I imagine camp is the start of many lasting friendships.”
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.