Family of Elmswell student Tommy Green want to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes
The family of a young student with type 1 diabetes who tragically died in his sleep while at university is striving to raise awareness of the condition.
Tommy Green, from Elmswell, was aged 21 when he went to sleep with a stomach illness at Nottingham Trent University on May 7 last year.
The former Thetford Grammar School student, who was studying quantity surveying, suffered diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – high blood sugar which results in a build-up of ketones in the body – during the night and never woke up.
As the year anniversary of his death approaches, mum Jo Green said she wants to raise awareness of the condition because she knows it will “save a life”.
Mrs Green, who currently lives in Dubai with husband Nick, a senior planning engineer with Emirates airlines, said: “I just miss him so much, he was my little angel.
“He was so kind and always thought about other people.
“We first found out Tommy had type 1 diabetes about a year before he went to university. The West Suffolk Hospital diabetic team were amazing in getting us through the early stages.
“Basically, type 1s need to inject themselves with insulin several times a day or use an insulin pump.
“It requires a lot of attention all day long by testing blood sugars. Levels can go up and down quickly depending on what they’ve eaten, a sunny day, exercise or illness.
“I just really want to get the message out there about the signs and symptoms because I know it will save a life.
“Perhaps saving someone who is undiagnosed helps me through.”
Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes can include sudden blurred vision, above average thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, irritability and other mood changes and fruity odoured breath.
A fundraising campaign was launched by website diabetes.co.uk following Tommy’s death with people encouraged to ‘dab for diabetes’ and ‘dab for Tommy’.
The idea was in response to a photograph of Tommy performing the popular dance move with his sister, Molly, 20, who lives in Elmswell, on holiday in the Seychelles a month before he died.
Tributes flooded in from around the world with people ‘dabbing’ from famous landmarks and posting videos online to support the campaign, including Royal Marines, staff at Universal Studios in the USA and an 101-year-old grandma.
“The support was amazing and people from all over the world got involved,” Mrs Green said. “It was quite comforting for us at the time to know that it was raising awareness.”