THE TRAUMA is over for Huddersfield’s youngest diabetic girl – thanks to pioneering new technology.
And after months of “pinning down” four-year-old Grace Harker for painful but vital injections four times a day, her parents can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Little Grace is the youngest child in Huddersfield to be given a special device to regulate her insulin levels 24 hours a day.
The tiny computer is worn around the Dalton girl’s waist and monitors her blood sugar levels throughout the day via a small line into her thigh.
Mum Layla Harker, 32, said: “It’s great. Now she can live a normal life like other children.
“It was just awful before, having to chase after her and pin her down to stick a needle in her. She never really agreed and she would cry with the pain.
“Luckily, she was so young at the time, she can’t really remember now.”
Grace, of Hallas Grove, was just aged three when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – an unpreventable condition where the body fails to produce the hormone insulin, needed for processing glucose in the body.
Layla knew something was wrong with her usually bright and lively daughter when she became tired and was constantly thirsty.
She said: “She just started drinking all the time and was always wanting another one.
“When I checked on the internet, diabetes was the first thing that came up.”
A simple urine test revealed her blood sugar was dangerously high and Grace was admitted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Layla and dad Adam Harker – who also have a two-year-old son, Ivan – were left distraught by the news.
Layla said: “I just felt sick but had to be jolly for her. We were in two days and I had to learn how to do the injections and check her blood sugar.
“It was hard because she wasn’t like other children then. She couldn’t have any snacks between meals and it was awkward having to say no to her little brother Ivan too because I couldn’t let him have something and not let her.”
Then medics at HRI suggested Grace try a new insulin pump.
The device delivers a continuous supply of insulin over a 24-hour period and, most importantly, means a child or their parent can deliver insulin whenever they have carbohydrate.
The pump needle only needs changing once every two days which also limits the amount of pain children have to endure.
Dr Yvette Oade, medical director, consultant paediatrician and child diabetes expert for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, hopes to get more youngsters using the pumps.
She said: “Our team is always delighted when the lives of our young patients and their families are improved so much.
“For the pumps to be effective the families using them have to be highly motivated and the families who do manage them deserve praise for the effort and focus they have to make.
“The pumps are not for everybody and only for type 1 diabetes but they can make a terrific difference.”
Now Layla simply pricks Grace’s skin throughout the day to test her blood sugar and tells the computer how many grams of carbohydrate she is eating. The pump then adjusts the amount of insulin her body needs.
Layla said: “It has made such a difference.
“But we have to watch her if she runs around or gets tired because her blood sugar can go too low. When she’s ill it goes high. It’s hard but we just get on with it.
“It annoys me when people think type 1 diabetes is caused by her having the wrong diet.
“It has got nothing to do with it.”