Ipswich man first to receive artificial pancreas in Queensland

West Moreton Health Diabetes educator Astrid Linjawi, Endocrinologist Dr Thomas Dover, Medtronic Clinical Specialist Katie Northam, with diabetes educator and Type 1 Diabetes sufferer Joseph Marchisella.

Joseph ‘Joe’ Marchisella is the first person in Queensland to be fitted with a device that acts as an artificial pancreas.

Ipswich’s Mr Marchisella has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 35 years.

The breakthrough technology is a small device no bigger than a mobile phone that can monitor glucose levels and administer the required amount of insulin the body needs.

“This is a game changer for me,” Mr Marchisella said.

“The machine will predict what your blood is going to do in the next half an hour and it can react to that.

“You can effectively take your mind off diabetes for a short amount of time which is fantastic. When you suffer from diabetes you are constantly doing revision in your mind about what is going to happen next. If I drink a coffee I have to work out how much sugar is in it, what is that going to mean in an hour?

“Now with this pump I know it will take care of that and bring me into a good range.”

West Moreton Health Endocrinologist Dr Thomas Dover said West Moreton Health was the first health service in Queensland with access and training to support the technology.

“We have about 1200 patients here in the Ipswich district. It is estimated there are around 120,000 Australians living with Type 1 Diabetes so this is an incredible opportunity for the West Moreton community to have access to breakthrough technology so close to home,” Dr Dover said.

“There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes so the goal of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible, which can be hard to achieve, and to minimise the risk of developing short and long-term complications.

“This technology gives people the freedom to live their lives without constantly having to monitor their condition – it essentially serves the role their pancreas is supposed to do.”

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin.

It is not known what causes this auto-immune reaction. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.

This type of diabetes represents around 10 per cent of all cases and is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions.

It is managed with insulin injections several times a day or by an insulin pump.

A nurse for 10 years and a diabetes educator for more than two years, Mr Marchisella decided to take on an education role to help people better understand the disease and how to live with it.

“I understand what it is like to live with Type 1 Diabetes,” Mr Marchisella said. 

“I can relate and I can talk to people in the West Moreton Health diabetes clinic here in Ipswich person-to-person as well as clinician to patient.”

Mr Marchisella will not only receive the new technology to manage his own condition but he is now one of two West Moreton Health diabetes educators trained in the new technology to benefit local community members with diabetes.

“I still have to calibrate the sensor occasionally and refill the insulin pump but I can be confident that day and night my blood glucose levels are being monitored and I can get on with life.”

For more information about the new system or for information about diabetes management contact West Moreton Health’s Ipswich Diabetes Service on 3813 6150.

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