Device gives diabetic Taylor chance of normal life

Taylor Banks
Taylor Banks

A diabetic boy who is allergic to insulin has become the first child in Britain to be fitted with a device which helps deliver the drug by bypassing the skin.

Taylor Banks, nine, is the second child in the world to be fitted with a device with delivers insulin directly to his abdomen so it does not come into contact with his skin.

The youngster, from Wigan, was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes - where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin - when he was two.

He was rushed to hospital unconscious and treated with insulin which treated his diabetes but prompted a severe allergic reaction to the drug.

His mother Gema Westwell, a 32-year-old hairdresser, said: “Straight after taking the injections he would go into a trance-like state, he was like a zombie, unable to communicate and function.

“We switched Taylor to an insulin pump hoping it would help, but then he started breaking out with painful red welts all over his body.

“It was so upsetting because nothing we were trying to do was helping to take the pain away.

“These welts eventually turned into permanent areas of abnormally sunken skin, into which no insulin could be given.”

His symptoms worsened until the youngster, whose condition was first featured in the Wigan Post last year, was in constant pain and his parents had to check his sugar levels throughout the day and night to make sure he did not slip into unconsciousness.

When he was seven, doctors discovered his allergy to insulin was only skin deep, and he was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Dr Rakesh Amin, consultant in endicrinology at GOSH said: “Taylor’s quality of life was so poor and his prognosis so bleak that to not find a solution to this allergy was not an option.”

After a number of ideas were explored, earlier this year Dr Amin identified the second generation DiaPort as a potential option to treat Taylor’s condition. The device connects an insulin pump device to the abdominal cavity, so the drug bypasses the skin.

Last month, Taylor became the first child in the UK, and the second in the world, to be fitted with the device, GOSH said.

Taylor’s father Scott Banks, a 32-year-old bricklayer, said: “It’s still early days but we’ve already noticed the changes.

“Most importantly Taylor’s blood sugar levels are significantly lower and much more balanced. He isn’t in any pain, he hasn’t had any reaction in his skin and he’s sleeping better. For the first time Taylor identified on his own when he was having a hypo, which is just brilliant.

“This progression means everything to us. We’re so grateful to Dr Amin and GOSH and to all of the nurses and doctors who have helped Taylor. I just hope now that this will help him to have a chance at being a normal little boy, back in school and playing with his friends. He’s missed out on so much because he’s been so ill for so long, I hope this DiaPort will help Taylor get his childhood back.”

Type 1 diabetes affects around 400,000 people in Britain, including around 29,000 children.

People with the condition need to keep their blood glucose levels as normal as possible to control their symptoms.

The type 1 diabetes charity JDRF estimates that a child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged five faces up to 19,000 injections and 50,000 finger prick blood tests by the time they are 18.

Jude Sutton, from JDRF, said: “Taylor, like all living with type 1 diabetes, is showing extraordinary bravery in dealing with what is a tough condition. His allergy to insulin makes life even tougher but we hope this positive news provides Taylor and his family with some much-deserved respite.”