Branford teen first pediatric patient to try artificial pancreas

BRANFORD --  Those battling Type 1 Diabetes now have access to a new tool in their fight.

A Branford teen is the first pediatric patient in the world to realize the benefits of the new technology.

Being a high school freshman is tough enough.

"I have field hockey and track and a musical and best buddies," said a beaming Claire Bickel, 14, a freshman at Branford High School, who must also find time to manage Type 1 Diabetes, which was a drag with her previous insulin pump.

"So, like every hour, I would get a certain amount of insulin, whether I was 300 or 60," she said.

But, following over a decade of research, much of it at Yale, she's become the first pediatric patient to test the new technology.

"So this is the pump and it has my blood sugar on the screen," she said as she help up the the credit card sized device.

In this closed loop system, the glucose sensor talks to the insulin pump, which automatically administers the correct amount insulin only when necessary.

"Claire is a wonderful kid, very mature, very articulate and very very engaged with her diabetes," said Stuart Weinzimer, MD, a Pediatric Endocrinologist and Yale New Haven Hospital.

One of the benefits of the new device: regulates your glucose while you sleep.

"Type 1 parents generally get up in the night and check on their kids, which is sort of like having an infant forever," said Francesca Bickel, Claire's Mother

"One of the biggest fears for families is a fear of low blood sugars overnight," said Jennifer L. Sherr, MD, PhD, also a a Pediatric Endocrinologist and Yale New Haven Hospital.

Dr. Sherr, also a Type 1 Diabetic, gave Claire her first insulin shot nearly 10 years ago.

"She hasn't let her diabetes stop her in any way," said Sherr.