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GARY KLEIMAN - Islet Cell Recipient


Gary Kleiman, born in New York in 1953, has been an advocate for research toward a cure for diabetes for more than three decades.


Now, Executive Director of Medical Development at the University of Miami's Diabetes Research Institute, Kleiman has testified before the House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Health and at the Capitol Summit for Diabetes Research about the need for increased diabetes research funding.  He has written and been featured in magazines and newspaper articles and has made numerous appearances on local and national radio and television talk and news shows to discuss the impact of diabetes and research progress.   Kleiman's autobiography No Time To Lose (1983, William Morrow & Co., Inc.) is an account of his extraordinary life and achievements while coping with some of diabetes' most severe complications.  Diagnosed with the disease at age six, he developed diabetic retinopathy by age 18 and was among the first to be treated with argon laser which has become the standard treatment for this eye disease.  Later, at age 28, he required a kidney transplant and again, he was among the first to use a new immune suppressive drug, cyclosporine, to prevent rejection of his mother's kidney.  In 2001 a second transplant was needed.  His brother, Glenn, donated one of this kidney's.  On November 1, 2002 Kleiman received an infusion of insulin-producing islets which for the first time since 1960 freed him of insulin injections.


Although diabetes complications prevented his graduation, Kleiman attended Syracuse University as an art major, and played varsity tennis.  He went on to become a recognized and accomplished sculptor with numerous commissioned works to his credit, including The International Pisart Vision Award sponsored by the Lighthouse for the Blind in New York.


In 1972, diabetes complications led Kleiman's parents to what was then a small but highly reputable diabetes program at the University of Miami.  The Kleiman’s went on to become one of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation's founding families and remain vocal in their support of the Institute.


In 1978, Gary himself began working for the Diabetes Research Institute as a youth counselor and diabetes camp coordinator.  He went on to serve on the Board of Trustees of Eagle's Nest Camp for Children with Diabetes in North Carolina.  Later, Kleiman coordinated flights for donor organ procurement and served as managing editor for Pathways, a diabetes research magazine for lay readers.


Kleiman worked closely with the leadership of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO as they financed and built the state-of-the-art building which today houses the Diabetes Research Institute.  The internationally recognized institution, located at the University of Miami School of Medicine, was completed and inaugurated in 1994.  Today, Kleiman helps lead the institute's national fundraising and public affairs activities.  He lives in Miami with his wife, Chris and two young sons, Ben and Daniel.


Sun-Sentinel staff photo/Anastasia Walsh

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