Worthing girl uses high-tech equipment for diabetes

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SOME high-tech equipment is helping an eight-year-old girl manage her diabetes.

Saffron Harmston-Essex was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year after dramatically losing weight and feeling thirsty all the time.

Her mum Sue, of St Andrew’s Road, said: “Saffron was a healthy little girl until, out of nowhere, the signs of diabetes appeared.

“Within the space of a month she had lost a huge amount of weight and was needing to drink all the time, which raised alarm bells.”

Sue took Saffron to the doctor and was immediately sent to Worthing Hospital. Within 20 minutes, Saffron was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – a condition which develops when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.

As a result, the body is unable to produce insulin, leading to increased blood glucose levels, which can cause serious damage to the body.

Sue, 34, said: “It was very scary at first – they said Saffron could have slipped into a coma because her blood sugar was so high.

“When we got the diagnosis I was relieved it wasn’t something worse – I’d heard of diabetes, so we were able to cope knowing what it was.”

Saffron, who is starting Thomas A’Becket Middle School next week, now has to wear an insulin pump 24 hours a day.

It administers insulin through a cannula in her stomach, and her parents have to check her sugar levels between six to 12 times a day, and throughout the night.

Saffron wears the pump, about the size of a pager, in a bag around her waist.

She is one of approximately only 20 children in Worthing who use the technology to control the condition.

“It’s brilliant, as it means Saffron can get on with life and take the condition in her stride,” said Sue.

Together with her husband, Lee, 40, Sue can use a remote control to send a signal to the pump to top up Saffron’s insulin intake at meal times.

Saffron’s teachers are also able to check her blood sugar levels, which can rise during hot weather, or through stress, illness and exercise.

Sue, Lee and their friends, Naomi Sturgess and Jez Brewster, are running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London, on October 9, in aid of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Sue said: “We’re hoping to raise £1,000 and would really like to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, especially the signs and symptoms so other parents are aware that diabetes can affect children.

“There’s a stigma attached to type 2 diabetes, so when we say Saffron has diabetes many assume it’s caused by lifestyle, when it is actually completely out of her control.”

To sponsor the group, visit the website at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/running-for-a-cure