AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nicholas Kaufman was just 2 years old when his physician diagnosed him with Type 1 diabetes. Nicholas is now 7 and an expert on how his body doesn't produce insulin, and how to spot the warning signs of diabetic danger.
"When my blood sugar gets too low, I don't have enough in my body. When it gets too high I have too much," he said.
If levels aren't corrected, Type 1 diabetics can go into a coma, even die.
"There's no leeway. It is life or death 24-7," his father Andy Kaufman said.
Nicholas is the first person in Hawaii to receive a new model insulin pump and sensor system, approved last year by the FDA. It's the closest thing science has to an artificial pancreas.
The Medtronic 670G constantly monitors Nicholas' blood-sugar levels and administers insulin exactly when he needs it.
"What's great about this is that the technology keeps their blood sugar levels at a healthy range, which is about 120," said LJ Duenas, Hawaii Director of the American Diabetes Association.
The device has changed things dramatically for the Kaufmans. They no longer have to check their son's blood-glucose levels several times a night.
"It's reduced so much of our stress. It's slowly given back our life that diabetes kind of took away from us," Andy Kaufman said.
When the warranty ran out on Nicholas' manual insulin pump his doctor upgraded him to the new Medtronic system.
"And we were lucky. It just sort of happened that way," Andy Kaufman said.
There's a waiting list for the product. About 1,000 children in Hawaii have Type 1 diabetes. The pump is covered by most insurance plans.
"It's going to make things so much easier for them," Duenas said.
Nicholas is an active second-grader who likes basketball and swimming and his new machine. He's taught his teachers how it works in case he needs help.
"You need a lot of practice, then it'd be easy," he said.