"You Need to Conquer It"

July 24, 2015
Topics: Riley Kid Story, Diabetes

Claire Dunigan bloig image
Claire Dunigan, Evansville

There are many words you could use to describe University of Evansville freshman Claire Dunigan: Passionate; Eloquent; Shy; Empathetic; Positive.

But there is one word the aspiring elementary teacher refuses to be defined by: Diabetes. “Instead of letting it conquer you, you need to conquer it,” Claire says.

Claire was 12 years old when her mother Leah became concerned about Claire’s mood swings and weight loss. She pushed for a urine test during a school physical, and they found out Claire’s blood sugar was extraordinarily high. The Dunigans were sent from their hometown of Evansville to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis. “I remember sitting in the hospital bed and the doctor saying I had type 1 diabetes,” recalls Claire. “Both my parents started crying.”

Leah stayed with Claire for the next several days at Riley Hospital, and her husband Derek and son Graham stayed at a nearby hotel so they receive Riley’s thorough training on managing type 1 diabetes. “They gave me a teddy bear and I practiced giving shots on the bear,” recalls Claire. “My parents gave each other saline shots to practice.”

Thanks to Riley’s partnership with Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Newburgh, Ind., Claire continued her diabetes care close to home with Riley pediatric endocrinologist Zeina Nabhan, M.D. Two years later, Claire her family returned to Riley for insulin pump training with Jill Meier, MSN, CPNP, a program that’s fueled by philanthropic support from Riley Children’s Foundation donors. “After getting my pump, my blood sugars were a lot better controlled,” says Claire.

Now, Claire is transitioning into adult diabetes care with Raghu Mirmira, M.D., Ph.D., an endocrinologist and Wells Center for Pediatric Research investigator who treats both adults and children. “It is cutting-edge research,” says Leah. “The care you get from Riley can’t be matched anywhere else.”

For donors who support Riley Hospital, Claire shares this message: “I could not be more grateful. Even just a little bit of a donation makes a big difference. Their help is incredible.”

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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