Lancing man praised for miraculous survival that defied doctor’s predictions

David Robertson with his medal from Diabetes UK. Photo Credit: Nikki Goodeve, The Photography Fairy SUS-190907-132925001
David Robertson with his medal from Diabetes UK. Photo Credit: Nikki Goodeve, The Photography Fairy SUS-190907-132925001

A retired chartered surveyor from Lancing has been recognised for confounding his doctor’s prognosis after being diagnosed with diabetes.

David Robertson was told he had Type 1 diabetes in 1968, at the age of 20 years old, and would be lucky to live past his 40th birthday.

But the father-of-two had other ideas and has been awarded a medal from Diabetes UK for living with the condition for 50 years.

David said he was in the middle of his university degree when he was rushed to hospital after his symptoms suddenly got worse.

“I remember a doctor on the ward saying to me at my time of diagnosis that I’d be lucky to make it to 40 years old,” he said.

“That comment stayed with me and I’m so pleased to have showed him that the condition doesn’t stop you from leading a long and happy life.

“Fifty years is a long time to live with diabetes – it’s 24-7 and relentless. I often think it would be nice to have a weekend off from diabetes but I know I’m lucky to still be here so I can’t complain too much.”

He has credited a healthy diet, exercise and self-care with being behind his remarkable resilience over five decades, culminating in the award of the Alan Nabarro medal for courage and perseverance.

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition where the body cannot produce the hormone insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood.

The exact causes are still unknown – it is not preventable, but treated by daily insulin doses.

David said: “The care and treatment of diabetes has changed so much in the past half-century. Testing is now so much easier as is the NHS’s knowledge about the condition.

“Having regular diabetes assessment really helps manage the condition.

“In recent years, food labelling has helped a lot in assessing the carb and sugar content of many foods. My advice to someone newly diagnosed is simple: take diabetes seriously and moderation is the key to keeping healthy.”

Jill Steaton, regional head for the south east at Diabetes UK, said David was an inspiration and showed that sufferers taking control of their diabetes could lead healthy lives.

For more information on diabetes visit www.diabetes.org.uk