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December 20, 2000


Question from Akron, Ohio, USA:

Last year, my 49 year old sister passed away from what the doctors said were long-term effects of diabetes, which she had this since day one of her life. She had “brittle diabetes”, and, to my knowledge, she was never “under control”. She started her life on U-80 and Lente insulin mix, three shots a day. Eventually, she ran out of places to give her shots. The autopsy report puzzled her doctors, so tissue was sent to a major medical center. They did not mention anything about diabetes, only that she had an unknown substance in her lungs. I know that it was black. Does this mean she may have bled to death from bleeding lungs? She never smoked a day in her life. At the end we had to suction her every five to ten minutes. What possibly killed my sister?


From: DTeam Staff

My sympathies on the death of your sister. It sounds like you need to speak with her physician for an interpretation of the autopsy report. There are a number of conditions which can cause the lung to look chronically diseased at death. You are correct in questioning whether complications related to diabetes contributed to your sister’s death. This is the case in many instances, however. Diabetes and its related complications can cause chronic disease which make other diseases more likely. For instance, chronic renal failure from diabetes may put individuals at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and infections, such as pneumonia. I do not have all the answers to your questions. I would suggest you contact your sister’s physician and discuss her case. It sounds like it will help you bring her death to a conclusion.