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Australian boy receives world’s first artificial pancreas

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Four-year-old Xavier Hames shows the artificial pancreas system (file photo)

A four-year-old Australian boy has received the world’s first treatment for managing type 1 diabetes after doctors fitted him with an artificial pancreas.

The new device, which looks like an mp3 player, was attached to Xavier Hames’s body using several tubes inserted under his skin, Australian health officials said on Wednesday.

The four-year-old became the first patient to use the new device following successful clinical trials.

“The technology mimics the biological function of the pancreas to predict low glucose levels and stop insulin delivery… This in turn avoids the serious consequences of low glucose such as coma, seizure and potential death,” Western Australia's health department added.

The artificial pancreas is an automated system that simulates the normal pancreas to adapt to body insulin levels through the automatic administration of one or two hormones.

The technology tracks glucose levels and stops insulin delivery up to 30 minutes before a predicted hypoglycemic attack, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) said.

The attacks usually take place at night when sleeping patients may not be able to respond to or recognize the potentially fatal episode.

Type I diabetes is a disease where the body cannot produce the hormone needed to convert glucose from food into energy for cells.

Untreated, diabetes causes serious damage to organs in the long run, including vision loss and kidney failure.

Type I diabetes is typically diagnosed in younger individuals.


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