JDRFStoriesDannie O’Connor – three generations of family affected by type 1

Dannie O’Connor – three generations of family affected by type 1

Author: Dannie's story | Posted: 10 November 2021

Dannie O'Connor - Bags of Resilience

“If I met the scientists behind the insulin technology I would honestly give them the biggest high five in the world!” 

Dannie O’Connor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 4 years old. Now at age 31 she has been living with the diagnosis for 27 years.  Dannie’s daughter Sophie aged 5 and father Alistair are also living with the condition. Alistair was diagnosed 11 years after Dannie, and Sophie was diagnosed shortly after she started nursery.


Dannie’s earliest memory from being diagnosed was hiding under a hospital bed.

“I was hiding under a hospital bed with the blankets all wrapped around me and waiting for the nurses to come in and do my injection. At that time it was syringes and drawing up the insulin so the needles looked humongous. That was my first and very clearest memory of being diagnosed with type 1 at that age. But it never leaves.”

When Dannie’s dad Alistair was diagnosed later on, he already had 10-11 years experience of type 1. Dannie says:

“Anybody would think it was easier, he has got that experience. But it wasn’t. He was an adult and used to doing things in certain ways and he had to totally change again. It was different from my experience because he straight away went onto 4 insulin injections daily and carb counting. I think for him it was probably harder than for Sophie and I being diagnosed.”

When Sophie was first diagnosed, Dannie remembers sitting in the doctors surgery feeling her whole world had crumbled:

“It’s like a brick hitting you in the face. I instantly started crying and blaming myself. I was so sorry for her and the life that she was going to lead. All the emotions just run through your head in that split second but literally about 30 seconds later it was like no wait a minute we’ve got this we can do this, we’re going to be fine.”

Type 1 technology

Dannie is incredibly grateful for the progress made in technology and has found it’s much easier to have a normal life because of insulin pumps, glucose monitors and mobile apps for information sharing:

“If I had this technology, when I was diagnosed like Sophie has now I think I would have had a very different upbringing and a maybe more of a normal childhood, for Sophie being diagnosed now she is having a completely different experience to what me and my dad had – which is absolutely phenomenal and actually helps me to sleep at night knowing it’s not going to be as bad for her as it was for us.

Now looking at my dad, myself and Sophie and how strong we are as people and how it has made us grow up before a lot of our peers did and what we’ve achieved, especially Sophie in her wee tiny life, you don’t blame anybody, you don’t feel you’re being picked on, it’s just one of these unfortunate things that happened and we’ve got no control over so why dwell on what could have been and just move forward and try and make you know positives from it and live as normal and happy a life as we can.

A type 1 cure for me, my dad and Sophie and the rest of our family would mean the world.

It would just make things so much easier and just give us that bit of normality that we’ve been missing all these years. You know, it’s something we’ve never had.”

Dannie speaks in detail about her story in this recording:


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