New device for type 1 diabetes works like artificial pancreas
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that isn't easy to live with. But a device that was recently approved by the FDA is helping some patients control their blood sugars more easily.
Eleven-year-old Audrey Wagahoft is one of them. The Rabbit Creek Elementary student has always been active, but about a year-and-a-half ago she fell very ill. Her mother, Cherie Wagahoft, said Audrey wound up in the hospital where she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and told she would have to administer insulin for the rest of her life to keep her blood sugars in check. In the beginning, Wagahoft said, Audrey needed shots of insulin constantly, up to half a dozen a day.
"Every time she had to eat she had to give herself some insulin and another shot," said Wagahoft. "So, for her, it was like, is it worth it to poke myself for this food? Or can I wait?"
Audrey decided the shots weren't worth it, so as soon as she could she got a new pump. The device, made by Medtronics, is considered a first of its kind, an "artificial pancreas" approved by the FDA for children and adults.
Providence Medical Center was the first to offer the device to children in the state. Endocrinologist Dr. Cydney Fenton said it consists of several parts that communicate with each other. A sensor that detects Audrey's blood sugar levels gives the information to the pump which administers more or less insulin as needed.
"It's trying to do what our bodies, for those of us who don't have diabetes, would do naturally,' said Fenton.
For her part, Audrey still needs to check her blood sugars on a regular basis and closely monitor what she eats. She counts the carbohydrates before every meal and enters the information into her pump to determine the dose of insulin that will be needed. She said the pump has given her more independence. Her mother said it's also keeping her blood sugars at a much more dependable level.
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