LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — It's being called the greatest breakthrough for diabetes patients since the insulin pump. A new life-saving device just approved by the FDA arrived in Louisville.
Jennifer Bledsoe, 42, said it felt like Christmas morning when she pulled her new pancreas out of the box. But it's not really a new pancreas; it's a small device, just the size of a cell phone, that does all the work of one.
"With you and I, our pancreas works to regulate glucose in our bodies," explains Jennifer's nurse, Victoria Lawrence-Gilbert, who works for Norton Healthcare. "Diabetics don't have that."
They call it the "smart phone" of insulin pumps. It was just approved by the FDA last month and Jennifer is one of the first patients in the country to receive the Metronic 530-G Pump. Like her old insulin pump, it delivers insulin to her body when she needs it, but this one has a wireless sensor attached to her by a small needle insert that can wirelessly monitor her levels. It shuts itself off if the levels get too low and transmits the information straight to her doctor.
"If you could only imagine, back in the 1970's, patients were told they could never have a doughnut," says Lawrence-Gilbert. "They could never have a piece of birthday cake. A lot has changed."
The insulin pump came along in 1983 that gives patients the ability to manually adjust their sugar levels. That's what Jennifer has used since she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 13 years ago.
"Most people get up in the morning, brush their teeth, wash their hands, get on with their day," says Jennifer. But with diabetes, we have to test our blood sugar regularly and work with the pump to get your corrections."
The new pump won't keep her from pricking her finger 3-4 times a day for testing, but it can also work alone if it needs to.
"This [pump] will turn itself off if that patient was unconscious," says Lawrence-Gilbert. "That could potentially save her life."
Jennifer's blood sugar has dropped before to levels that sent her to the hospital. If she's unconscious, she can't monitor her levels and if they are too high or too low, they could be deadly.
"I'll have less worrying," says Jennifer. "I won't always think about what's going on, what I need to do. I think it's going to be a great change."
The Medtronic 530G Pump is available. Ask your doctor if you qualify for it. Jennifer's pump was fully covered by her insurance, but your carrier may be different.