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Carmel McDonagh

Patient Advocate

Mother-of-two Carmel McDonagh, 43, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17. She highlights how important it is to participate in clinical trials.

How did you become involved in clinical trials? 

It was when I thought about having another baby. When you are diabetic and pregnant, it is important to have your sugar levels right. I met Professor Fidelma Dunne, and she said I would be a perfect candidate for the ‘EXPECT’ trial of women with diabetes and pregnancy. It was a randomisation of insulin types to see which was better for women during pregnancy. 

What was the experience like for you? 

I now run two Airbnbs, but I wasn’t working when I was pregnant with my second child, who is now three. I’d go to the clinic for an extra appointment once a month. Every Friday, I would ring in with my sugar level readings, so I got extra care when I was pregnant. I also took part in work for a Core Outcome Set for the treatment of pregnant women with pregestational diabetes. 

Why is it important for patients to participate in clinical trials? 

It takes a bit of extra time, but if there were no clinical trials, I would not be here today. I am delighted to be able to take part in them — it is very satisfying and rewarding. 

If you’re uncertain about getting involved, speak
to healthcare professionals and ask questions.

What is the value of patient input in clinical trials? 

Professor Dunne from the School of Medicine at University of Galway heads the clinical trials and is doing a lot for diabetes research. She recognises the value of having patients on board and bringing patient expertise to the forefront. 

What is your message to people considering participation in clinical trials? 

I will definitely take part in future trials and would encourage others to participate. If you’re uncertain about getting involved, speak to healthcare professionals and ask questions; trials are safe to participate in, and you get extra care. 

Why is it so important going forward? 

It’s for the future; I see children nowadays who have diabetes and have their glucose monitors and insulin pumps whereas, when I was diagnosed, I was pricking my finger 10 times a day and doing my insulin injections. That shows how vital research is. 

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