'GP in a pocket' godsend for diabetes patients
A man who has battled diabetes for almost a decade has described a device that could revolutionise the lives of people with the disease as a "godsend".
Co Down man John Ralph appealed for the d-Nav Insulin Guidance Device to be available across Northern Ireland.
It was tested by around 200 patients with Type I and II diabetes at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald over the past two years.
The successful pilot, led by Dr Roy Harper, has now been extended to 700 people in the South Eastern Health Trust area.
The device is a red box about the same size of a mobile phone that people can carry around.
Patients prick their finger, place it on a sensor and it tells them how much insulin to take.
Doctors say the device could help control an illness that affects 80,000 people here and costs £400 million a year to treat.
The d-Nav Insulin Guidance Device was developed by an American company. It costs £90 a month and should cut the number of appointments.
Dr Harper, who previously described the device as like "having a doctor in your pocket", said it would give patients greater freedom and save money.
"Every time you check your blood sugars and every time you need to inject your insulin, it gives you that guidance ongoing," he added. "The result is very impressive - superior diabetes management, less hypoglycaemia, significantly lower susceptibility to complications, and a big reduction in the number of hospitalisations and other costs."
John (63), from Ballygowan, who was diagnosed eight years ago, said the gadget had given him back control.
"For me, it has been a godsend," he said. "I found out I was diabetic when I went to the doctors and he did tests and told me my blood sugar was high.
"It came as a surprise that I had diabetes and it can be hard for people to adjust.
"The device puts you in control of diabetes, instead of the condition controlling you. I can't praise it enough. It is good news that 700 people will now be able to use this but I think it should be made available to every person with diabetes."
Michael Anyadike-Danes (64), from Belfast, was diagnosed with Type II diabetes 20 years ago. The economist researcher said that the gadget had helped transform his life.
"I was controlling my diabetes with diet and medication, but it deteriorated and I was put on insulin injection," he added. "It took me a number of years to come to terms with being diabetic and accept it and have to treat it every day.
"The device has given me control that I've never had. In the past I never was able to achieve a normal range of blood sugar. Now I have that. The change has been extraordinary."