How to Donate Diabetes Supplies in Harvey’s Aftermath

Insulin For Life USA is mounting a rare domestic relief effort to help people with diabetes in Texas.



Update: 8/28/2017 – 9:00 p.m. – JDRF and the ADA have announced a joint partnership with the American Red Cross and FEMA to bring in diabetes supplies to areas affected by Harvey. Information on this effort will be regularly given at this site: www.diabetes.org/hurricaneharvey 

Many in the diabetes community are eager to help those with diabetes affected by Tropical Storm Harvey, and some have written Facebook posts urging others to donate to Insulin For Life USA, which typically focuses on donating diabetes supplies after international disasters.

While the reputation of Insulin For Life USA as an international medical aid organization is solid, I called to double-check that the organization was mounting a domestic relief effort to help those in the path of the storm in Texas.

Director Carol Atkinson confirmed by phone that the organization has a 800-pound pallet of diabetes supplies assembled to send to Texas. This will be the first domestic relief effort by Insulin For Life USA that will include insulin, she said. The organization has undertaken many similar post-hurricane efforts abroad and has donated diabetes supplies without insulin after domestic disasters.

“We are poised and ready to react,” Atkinson said.

Getting those supplies physically to Texas still requires overcoming a few hurdles, however. Insulin For Life USA’s legal team is still working on getting regulatory sign-off on the shipment. There is more red tape involved in domestic relief shipments than international ones, and Atkinson said that if this were an international shipment, it would already be on the road.

Insulin For Life USA is also still working to find a relief organization or medical organization on the ground to help distribute the supplies once they arrive. Atkinson said that The Red Cross does not handle the kind of diabetes supplies that her organization distributes. (We have emailed The Red Cross for comment, and will update the story if we receive a reply.)

Providing diabetes supplies after a disaster can be a logistical challenge, as many people with diabetes can’t wait for their supplies. Also, a relief effort must resupply everything to be effective.

“A vial of insulin with no syringe gets you nowhere, and a syringe with no vial of insulin gets you nowhere,” Atkinson said.

The organization is welcoming donations in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey, but Atkinson wanted to fully disclose that what is donated today or tomorrow will not go towards that direct relief effort. Rather, it will go to restock Insulin For Life supplies to make sure the organization is ready to act throughout the rest of the hurricane season.

Some relief organizations discourage donations of supplies because of logistical reasons, and ask strictly for cash donations. In this case, Atkinson said that donations of both supplies and money to Insulin For Life are helpful. The organization cannot accept partially used or expired supplies, however. If you would like to donate, please go to ifl-usa.org/how-you-can-help.

Image: michelmond / Shutterstock

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.