Feature Story
For nearly a year, 13-year-old Olivia Landreth had been sick with a mystery illness. She had missed a total of 27 days during the school year and had gone to at least 20 different doctors and specialists desperate to find what was ailing her. It wasn’t until one doctor checked her urine last August and found unusually high ketone. Ketone in the urine is a sign that the body is using fat for energy instead of using glucose because not enough insulin is available to use glucose for energy. The doctor ordered a blood test that revealed that the illness that was plaguing Olivia for so long was type 1 diabetes.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” her mother, Tammy Region-Landreth says. “I was scared to death because I knew about type 2 diabetes but didn’t know much about type 1.”

The doctor told them to go straight to Children’s of Alabama, where Olivia was admitted. The Landreths were told all about the disease and how to care for their daughter. “After two and a half days at Children’s, we left so comfortable with her diagnosis that we weren’t scared anymore.”

Olivia quickly took over management of her condition. Now a 14-year-old, Olivia gives herself insulin injections with every meal and at bedtime, and checks her blood sugar regularly throughout the day. She is so diligent with her insulin shots, diet and exercise that she has kept her blood-glucose levels under control.

Olivia’s teachers are also impressed with her progress and have even sent emails expressing her determination to finish her schoolwork even when she is not feeling 100 percent. It is no surprise that she is a straight-A student and has been since she started school. When she grows up, she says she wants to be either an orthopedic surgeon or a veterinarian.

Olivia has the support of her family, including her two older brothers, Spencer Region, a football player at Clemson University, and Christian Region, a City of Huntsville police officer. And, the entire family remains grateful for the continuous support of Children’s.

“I do not know what I would have done without their teaching, understanding and caring that they put into their patients,” Tammy says.