Oliver Bowman is too young to understand the enormity of having type 1 diabetes but his young parents Brooke and Aidan know all too well the reality of having a child with a chronic disease.
The constant worry. The sleepless nights. Total exhaustion.
While Oliver will never “grow out” of diabetes, the management of his disease has been smoother since he was gifted an insulin pump.
Brooke said the pump was a game changer – technology they would never have had access to if were not for the donation.
“We were faced with the prospect of doing insulin injections on our 17-month-old baby every two to three hours or having him on a pump that automatically regulated precise insulin doses for him,” she said.
“In our eyes, the pump was the only option but then we found out the cost — we couldn’t afford it and we didn’t have health insurance so we were devastated.
“Fortunately, we were eligible for a donated pump and were lucky enough to leave hospital with it.”
Professor Tim Jones, co-director of the Children’s Diabetes Centre, based at Telethon Kids Institute, said researchers were investigating how pump technology could improve blood glucose control and automatically regulate insulin delivery.
“We are currently involved in an international effort to develop revolutionary closed-loop ‘artificial pancreas’ technology and are leading an Australia-wide paediatric trial of these portable devices at home,” he said.
“The preliminary findings from this trial are that blood glucose levels are being controlled much better and that people with diabetes are having to work less hard to control their diabetes.
“One major outcome of this research will also be reduced rate of diabetes-related complications so that children grow up to be healthy adults. Life expectancy will be extended if you reduce the complications — it’s as simple as that.”
Liz Broad, acting clinical nurse consultant and diabetes educator at Perth Children’s Hospital’s Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, said insulin pumps offered many benefits but often, this technology was out of reach of families.