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Teenager receives first commercial artificial pancreas

By Editor
29th November 2018
Paediatrics

The first commercialised ‘artificial pancreas’ product outside of a clinical trial in the UK has been given to a young person in Leeds.

Laura Dunion, 17, of Oulton, is the first person out of three others to receive the new automated insulin delivery system, which she said has given her more freedom to live her life.

The Medtronic Minimed 670g Insulin Pump System is a self-adjusting insulin pump which offers SmartGuard™.  Medtronic says this the only technology that mimics how a healthy pancreas works, by providing two new levels of automated insulin delivery.

Leeds Children’s Hospital is the first in the country to roll out the system which has been developed to revolutionise care for those with type 1 diabetes.

We are trying to improve long-term outcomes and if we can stabilise glucose levels we have the opportunity to minimise the risk of developing the devastating complications of blindness, amputations, kidney failure and premature death from cardiovascular disease

Laura, who was diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune condition aged eight, was forced to constantly monitor her blood sugar levels and inject or pump insulin up to six-times-a-day.

Now she has an insulin pump attached to a tube in her stomach and a sensor placed on her skin, which has a bluetooth transmitter and automatically detects when insulin is needed and delivers it. Laura can now monitor her blood sugar levels at the touch of a button.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, she said: “This is the best technology we have had since I have been diagnosed. It has made me more independent and made me feel more normal. “It means less blood sugar checks. I don’t have to spend so much time checking and worrying about it.”

Dr Fiona Campbell, consultant in children’s diabetes at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “I think this will make young people less stressed about their type 1 diabetes and focus more on what they are doing in life.

“For me it’s about helping young people to live a full and active life while minimising the burden of monitoring diabetes. In the future our ambition would be that all young people with type 1 diabetes should have access to this equipment if it is felt they would benefit.

“We are trying to improve long-term outcomes and if we can stabilise glucose levels we have the opportunity to minimise the risk of developing the devastating complications of blindness, amputations, kidney failure and premature death from cardiovascular disease.”

Laura’s mother Lynn Dunion said the technology has also changed her life too.

The 46-year-old said: “I can now sleep knowing she is safe overnight. This is life-changing for me as a parent. It is a huge fear for parents that children will have a hypoglycaemic episode during the night from low blood sugar levels. This system also administers additional insulin as needed to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range, preventing serious long term health complications.”

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