Funding for device to prevent dead-in-bed syndrome

Smart technology: Balgownie schoolgirl Bella McInerney, with father Craig, can check her blood glucose levels on her smartphone thanks to a new device now funded by the federal government. Picture: Robert Peet

Smart technology: Balgownie schoolgirl Bella McInerney, with father Craig, can check her blood glucose levels on her smartphone thanks to a new device now funded by the federal government. Picture: Robert Peet

Balgownie parents Craig and Cathrine McInerney can rest easy after receiving federal funding for life-saving technology for their daughter Bella.

Eight-year-old Bella was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at four years old, and while multiple insulin injections, finger-prick tests – and pure instinct – kept her stable during the day, bedtime was the ‘’danger period’’.

On April 1 this year the Federal government committed $54 million to provide continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices for type 1 diabetics aged under 21. 

It’s a game changer for young Australians like Bella who can sync the device with her, and her parents’, smartphones to get constant blood glucose level readings. The technology even sets off an alarm if levels are of concern.

‘’For type 1 diabetics the danger period is when they’re asleep, because they don’t register that dizzy or nauseous feeling to alert them to the fact that their blood glucose levels are dangerously high, or low,’’ Mr McInerney said.

‘’Sadly some type 1 diabetics have died in their sleep because of it. This new device gives parents peace of mind that when we go to sleep, an alarm will alert us during the night if anything is wrong.’’

The cost of the devices (around $10,000) and the ongoing costs of sensors ($75 per week) have made it prohibitive for many families.

‘’This new funding takes away the financial burden for families,’’ Mr McInerney said. ‘’And by providing real-time results, it eliminates the need for so many finger-prick tests – which for Bella have reduced from 12 to just two a day.’’

Illawarra Shoalhaven Diabetes Service clinical nurse consultant Michele Martin said the service was providing training for families now eligible for funding.

‘’CGM involves the child having a sensor inserted into their abdomen which is then connected to a receiver which can detect the glucose level in the tissues,’’ she said. ‘’We’re delighted this life-saving technology is now affordable for families to prevent unnecessary deaths.

‘’It comes after lobbying from the DANII Foundation, founded by Donna and Brian Meads-Barlow after their daughter Daniella, 17, died overnight from ‘dead-in-bed’ syndrome as a complication of diabetes in 2012.’’

Mr McInerney is training for the Big Red Run, a 250km run across the Simpson Desert in June to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

‘’Bella faces challenges no child should face; any given day could bring high blood glucose levels that create dangerous ketones in her blood, low blood sugar levels that make her unsteady on her feet, shaky in her legs and scared. Research brings about important advancements that make sufferers’ lives more comfortable.’’

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to make the hormone insulin. Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot turn glucose (sugar), into energy. 

People with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin each day to replace the insulin the body cannot produce.

Support Mr McInerney’s online fundraiser at bigredrun2017.everydayhero.com/au/craig-running-the-big-red-run-for-jdrf

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