ORLANDO, Fla. - A new drug is giving hope to people with type 1 diabetes in Central Florida. The drug can delay the onset of symptoms and help patients avoid getting full-blown diabetes, for years.
One young patient is the very first person in our area to receive the new drug. Anderson Ata, 10, is living his best life, but you'd never know this healthy, active kid was extremely sick earlier this year.
His parents, both dentists, knew something was wrong on New Year's Eve -- Anderson was cold and shaking.
"I took a couple of covers from the cabinet in my room and put them on me, waited about an hour, and was still shaking, and I didn't know what was happening," he said.
It wasn't long before he was diagnosed with the beginning stages of type 1 diabetes.
"So in January, right away, this is why we were so lucky because we were able to catch it so early," said Anderson's father, Dr. Joseph Ata.
The Ata family found their way to Dr. Konda Reddy of AdventHealth. He is the first doctor in Orlando to administer a new drug called Tzield. The genius of it is that it can delay the onset of symptoms for years.
"But this medication, this monoclonal antibody therapy, is approved for stage one and stage two of the disease," explained Dr. Reddy. "That's why the early diagnosis is very important."
Patients are given a series of injections over 14 days and then they're done.
So how has it changed Anderson's life?
"The food diet is not that different, because [both my parents] they're dentists, so I didn't even get to eat candy or anything," Anderson said with a laugh.
"The real blessing, is that he doesn't know, because he really didn't have type 1 diabetes before the drug," said Dr. Reddy. "It's not like he took the drug and he got better. It's just that, he's never gotten worse."
Anderson is a trailblazer, the first person in Orlando and only the seventh in the world to get the drug. The family is grateful for the gift of time the drug has given Anderson.
"Even if we only get two years, even if we only get three years, even if we get one year, it will have been worth it, because just these past six months of him really being able to fully enjoy life has been a treasure," Dr. Ata added.
Again, the trick to using this drug is to catch the symptoms of type 1 diabetes early. Some symptoms include being more thirsty than usual, losing weight without trying, bed-wetting, and going to the bathroom a lot.