Michael Ledford, a fifth grader at Stuart Elementary School in Cleveland, Tn., was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes earlier this year. Recently, the active 10-year old became the first child in the region to obtain a wireless blood sugar monitor at T.C.Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga.
Approved last year by the FDA, the Medronic glucose sensor device is inserted under the skin and sounds an alert when a diabetic’s blood sugar is too low or too high.
Grateful that their son was able to obtain an insulin pump within months of his diagnosis, Harry and Cindy Ledford consider this latest technological advancement a godsend. Developed initially for adult diabetics, the new detection device has distinct advantages. For juvenile diabetics it means fewer blood checks (finger pricks) and for their parents, peace of mind.
According to T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital pediatric nurse practitioner, Ellen Tessman, “the ideal candidate for the glucose monitor is someone, particularly a child, who is hypoglycemic unaware – meaning they don’t experience the typical symptoms of low blood sugar, such as shakiness or hunger, until it’s too late.”
“More importantly, “it allows a child with diabetes facing a disruption of normal routine, like overnight trips with grandparents, vacations or camps, to have their blood sugar levels monitored on an ongoing basis,” says the Children’s Hospital nurse.
For the Ledford family, the glucose monitor has already proven its worth. “If Michael’s blood sugar levels need to be checked, it beeps, then gets steadily louder until it sounds like a siren,” said Michael’s mother, Cindy Ledford, adding, “it gets your attention.” Recently the sensor when off when Michael was asleep, alerting his family that his blood sugar level was 317. “This has happened more than once – and both times we would have slept through the night,” reported Mrs. Ledford.
The Ledfords, along with Ms. Tessman, are hopeful that at some point this new device will be covered by insurance. Currently there are 400 diabetic patients being treated at Children’s Hospital, more than half on insulin pumps. The sensor’s ability to detect and alert a diabetic of abnormal blood sugar levels “should translate to fewer long-term complications and hospitalizations,” maintains the pediatric nurse.
“I truly believe in the value of this,” says Michael’s mother. “Insurance companies need to know that this device will save on hospital and doctor visits and prevent illness.”
For more information on the Medtronic blood glucose sensor, call (423) 503-1367.