So-called 'artificial pancreas' offers new hope for those with Type 1 diabetes

Device to be offered by summer

By Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - There's a new device for those with Type 1 diabetes that some call an "artificial pancreas," and the first patients in South Florida just received it this month.

Haley Van Schaick had always been a healthy child until the summer when she was 11.

"I lost 30 pounds. I was always tired and eating and drinking, like there was something wrong," Van Schaick said.

Van Schaick was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Doctors said Van Schaick's pancreas had stopped making insulin, the hormone needed to turn sugar into energy.

The now 22-year-old college senior said controlling her disease is a full-time job.

"Like 24/7, I'm always having to think about what I am doing, what I am eating. Every single thing in my life affects my blood sugar," Van Schaick said.

Dr. Seda Suvag said Type 1 diabetes is difficult to treat because so many things affect how insulin works.

"For instance, stress, exercise, other medications. It's hard to keep blood sugars stable," Suvag said.

Van Schaick is one of the first patients to try out a mini-med device that continuously produces insulin. It's attached to a sensor that tells the pump how much insulin Van Schaick needs. Together, they do the job her pancreas stopped doing.

What makes the device different is that it adjusts the amount of insulin delivered to the patient every five minutes, based on their own unique needs.

"What we've seen is amazing," Suvag said. "The blood sugars are stable, patients are feeling better. We are already seeing great results with it."

Van Schaick volunteers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and served as the president of her sorority.

She doesn't let her disease keep her down, but she is happy this new so-called artificial pancreas will give her more freedom.

"With the technology, it gives my mind a sense of ease," she said.

Medtronic is the company that makes the new device, which should be available to patients this summer.

Local 10 News reporter Kristi Krueger will host the 2017 Hope Promise Dream JDRF Ball next month at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, raising money to help make advancements like this one possible.


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