A 17-year-old teenager with type 1 diabetes is the first person in the UK to have an electronic insulin pump fitted on the NHS.
Laura Dunion, from Oulton in Leeds, has a device which automatically injects insulin into her body whenever her blood sugar levels are high.
The Medtronic MiniMed 670G means that Laura can forget about having to regularly inject herself with the hormone and can get on with her daily life without worries.
After being receiving the gadget, Laura says it has changed her life.
Laura was diagnosed with diabetes when she was eight-years-old and was given the pump at Leeds Children’s Hospital last year.
She said the technology has since given her the confidence to ‘volunteer, go on skiing holidays and start learning to drive.’
She said, “Once I’d heard about it and what it did, I wanted it.”
“It did take time getting used to it, because I had to take a big step backwards. You kind of had to let it do its job, you can’t do what you’ve always been used to doing.”
Having type 1 diabetes means that one’s pancreas can’t make enough insulin, which is the hormone which helps the body absorb sugar from food.
This results in blood sugar level to spike dangerously high or drop dangerously low, and can even lead to a coma.
Until now diabetics have had to test their blood sugar, usually using a pin-prick blood test on their finger, and inject insulin if their sugar is too high.
But Laura’s new gadget uses a skin sensor to measure blood sugar and uses Bluetooth to signal when insulin is needed to a pump connected to her stomach.
The system automatically adapts throughout the day and should keep blood glucose stable, avoiding dangerous highs and lows without any effort from the patient.
Laura said learning to stop doing everything herself has been a challenge. She said, “I actually had to put my blood in and correct the insulin.” “Now I had to take a big step back and say “This is what it does, I can’t interfere with it.”
She also added, “[Diabetes has] never stopped me from doing anything but, if I have been doing something and my blood’s dropped, then I’ve had to stop doing what I’m doing to go and sort it out.”
“Now I can keep doing what I’m doing because I know that my blood is not going to stop me.”
Laura is currently studying childcare and development at college in Pontefract, West Yorkshire and will go to Leeds Beckett University.
Her mother, Lynn, is worried as it will be the first time she has lived away from home but feels reassured knowing her daughter will have the automatic pump as a safety net.
The 46-year-old mother said the ‘traumatic’ diabetes diagnosis meant she had to give Laura regular insulin injections when she was younger.
And she would sometimes wake every two hours during the night to monitor her blood sugar levels.
Lynn said, “Laura went from being nearly nine years old, out playing in the street and being a bit more independent with her friends, to being a child that I couldn’t leave in a room on her own at all without worrying that she may have a low blood sugar and collapse.”
“Now, after nine years, I can sleep through the night without worrying about Laura’s blood.”
What do you think about this new insulin pump? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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