Belfast Telegraph

'Insulin pump would change my boy's life, but there's no cash'

Case Study 1: Ben Martin

By Lisa Smyth

A 14-year-old diabetes patient is one of hundreds of thousands of people across Northern Ireland languishing on an NHS waiting list.

Ben Martin, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was diagnosed with diabetes after he became dangerously unwell when he was 12 years old.

The teenager has been told he is suitable for an insulin pump, which would regulate his blood sugars more effectively and reduce the risk of him becoming seriously unwell.

It would also remove the need for the multiple injections he endures every day to test his blood sugar level and to administer insulin, and give him greater freedom over when and what he eats.

However, his mum Gael (35) has said she has been told by clinicians that it will be 2020 before he will get the life-enhancing medical equipment.

She explained: "We were told in January 2018, four months after he was diagnosed, that he was on the waiting list for an insulin pump.

"Then we were told in January just past that he won't get the pump this year as there's no funding.

"We were actually told that because there are no politicians at Stormont, there is no one to make sure the funding is in place for the pumps.

"It's very disappointing because if he had the pump, he would be able to get more of his normal life back, especially when it comes to him doing sports in school or playing football with his friends, it would give him so much more freedom.

"At the moment, he is injecting himself six times a day, his wee body is completely full of pin pricks and is covered in bruises.

"If he had the pump, he'd be doing it every three days instead.

"Ben would love the pump, he was actually really excited after he was told about it, so it's frustrating because he's already been waiting so long and it would completely change his quality of life.

"It's so hard when you have diabetes, especially for children, because there are no off-days.

"The worst time possible for blood sugars is during the night and Ben can't go to bed until they're at a safe level, that could be one or two o'clock.

"Then we have to get up through the night to check his bloods and make sure everything is okay.

"He can be up a few times during the night, and then it's hard for him to concentrate in school the next day because of the broken sleep.

"He hates having to inject himself in public, he hates having to feel different, and if he had the pump he would be like every other child in school.

"We know we would be completely lost without the NHS and I feel sorry for the doctors and nurses. This is out of their hands.

"I just wish it could be sorted out for Ben and all the other children who are going without such an important piece of equipment."

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