At 3:30 a.m., Stefany Shaheen awoke to a feeling of uneasiness. Something was not quite right with her daughter, Elle.
Creeping into her bedroom, Shaheen removed a lancet from its wrapper and poked her diabetic daughter's finger.
Putting the blood onto the testing strip, she saw the results: dangerously low blood sugar. Shaheen woke Elle up and gave her orange juice to keep her from slipping into unconsciousness.
Shaheen was relieved her motherly intuition had told her something was wrong with Elle that night, but she wished she didn't have to rely on it. She yearned for an automatic way of knowing when Elle was dipping into a dangerously high or low blood sugar--and not just at night, but at school, where the 12-year-old is largely responsible for monitoring her own blood sugar.
Then last week, Shaheen got her wish.
Elle was selected to try out an experimental device called an artificial or "bionic" pancreas. During the three-day study, Elle didn't have to poke her finger every few hours to find out her blood sugar level because the "bionic" pancreas recorded it automatically and adjusted her insulin accordingly.