Type 1 diabetic teen is first to test artificial pancreas

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (CBS) A Connecticut teenager who has Type 1 diabetes is making medical history. She’s one of the first in the country to receive a so-called artificial pancreas.

Claire Bickel is an active 14-year-old who struggles to keep her blood sugar in check.

“Especially when I’m juggling field hockey, the spring musical, track, biology, checking my blood sugar,” said Claire

Now she’s the first pediatric patient to receive the artificial pancreas since it was approved by the FDA last year. The system from Medtronic automatically measures her blood sugar and delivers personalized amounts of insulin 24 hours a day, with less interaction from Claire.

Dr. Stuart Weinzimer of the Yale Children’s Diabetes Program says reducing the burden to patients and their families is huge.

“You still have to do some basic things like testing your blood sugar and dosing what you are eating. This is going to operate and do a lot of the important safety work in between meals, during exercise and at night,” Dr. Weinzimer explained.

That’s when Claire’s mother would worry the most about her blood sugar dropping. Now, they’re both looking forward to a future with less stress.

“I think going away places, going to college,” Claire said. “A lot of those things I want to do by myself, it’s just a lot easier to do.”