Variety – the Children’s Charity steps in where health care ends to help kids with special needs throughout BC. Supporting children with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), a lifelong disease caused by the autoimmune system attacking the insulin-producing cells in the body. There is currently an urgent need in our province for Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) for kids living with T1D. While the device is both lifesaving and life-changing, it is not funded by PharmaCare. As a result, many families are going to extreme lengths to afford them while others simply cannot. We hope that with your support through the Variety 50/50, Variety will be the organization that parents can turn to.
Four years ago, Coraline was having fun with her friends at her daycare’s Halloween party when she suddenly began to have seizures. “It was super scary,” recalls Shannon, Coraline’s mother. Shannon remembers rushing to try and get to the daycare while giving the daycare worker instructions over the phone on how to inject her daughter with glucagon, a lifesaving hormone. Fortunately, paramedics quickly arrived on the scene and were able to help the little girl who was suffering from severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as a result of her Type 1 Diabetes. Now nine years old, Coraline hasn’t had another episode of severe hypoglycemia since then but the possibility that it could happen again still haunts her family. To stay alive and healthy, children with T1D need to prick their fingers to test their blood sugar levels 8 to 15 times a day and be on an insulin pump or manually inject themselves with insulin needles at least 4 times a day.
Additionally, they need to make treatment decisions each time they want to eat or be physically active. Too much insulin – or not enough carbohydrates – puts children with T1D at risk of severe hypoglycemia which can quickly become a life-threatening medical condition. Conversely, too little insulin can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) which can also be fatal if untreated. To keep their children safe, many parents get up throughout the night to check their children’s blood sugar and treat their diabetes.
Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) are small wearable devices that ease the burden of T1D by providing real-time blood sugar level readings. CGMs have an alarm feature that alerts parents and caregivers if blood sugar levels are dropping low or going high. This greatly reduces the need for blood tests, allows parents and caregivers to remotely monitor their child’s blood sugar levels (allowing kids more independence) and prevents episodes of severe hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. CGMs also provide data that helps doctors and families better adjust insulin levels to match a child’s ever-evolving insulin needs. And perhaps most exciting of all, CGMs can now integrate with some insulin pumps further reducing the risk of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia by instructing insulin pumps when to shut off or increase insulin to keep blood sugar levels in range.
“If Coraline had been wearing a CGM that day, she never would have had that seizure,” says Shannon. “We are just so grateful to Variety and their incredibly generous donors for providing Coraline with this amazing gift.”