Diabetic supplies for Hurricane Harvey victims gathered by UF Health researcher’s non-profit group
When Hurricane Harvey swamped Southeast Texas, many people lost access to crucial medical supplies. A Gainesville nonprofit group led by a University of Florida Health diabetes researcher and his wife has stepped up to help, getting thousands of pounds of insulin and diabetic supplies on the road to Texas — with more to come.
Insulin for Life USA typically gathers unused diabetic supplies and dispatches them to needy patients around the world. Hurricane Harvey created an instant need closer to home.
“There are a lot of people in Southeast Texas who have diabetes. Many of them lost the insulin and supplies they need to manage their disease,” said Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., director of the UF Diabetes Institute, a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s departments of pathology and pediatrics and president of Insulin for Life USA.
On Wednesday afternoon, five pallets of diabetic supplies – some 4,000 pounds in all – were boxed up and sent to Texas. For Atkinson, who is president of Insulin for Life, and his wife, Carol, it’s their first time handling domestic aid since they founded the group in 2012.
As Mark Atkinson spoke earlier this week about organizing donations, emails about the need for diabetic supplies in the Houston area kept pinging his phone. It’s a tall order for the Atkinsons and their small cadre of volunteers, which include UF College of Pharmacy students, but they get results: Last year, the group distributed more than $3 million of diabetic supplies to people who need them.
Insulin for Life is accepting all types of diabetes-related donations – in-date, unneeded insulin vials, pens and cartridges; glucagon; A1C test kits; glucose meters and strips, syringes and other supplies. Cash donations, which help with shipping expenses and allow the supplies to be distributed free to needy people, are also welcomed. Volunteers who can help sort and package supplies may also be needed as more supplies get donated, Atkinson said. For more information or for information about donating, go to http://ifl-usa.org/ or call 352-327-8649 or email Carol@ifl-usa.org.