NDP's Adrian Dix praises parents who led fight for insulin pumps for kids with Type 1 diabetes

Today (February 11) in the B.C. legislature, NDP MLA Adrian Dix (Vancouver-Kingsway) praised several parents for  driving a successful  campaign to have children's insulin pumps covered under PharmaCare.

Last November, Premier Gordon Campbell and Health Minister George Abbott announced that the PharmaCare program would pay the entire cost of a pump every five years for people under the age of 18 with Type 1 diabetes.

"The lead advocates to get insulin pump coverage in British Columbia were parents who themselves had provided the insulin pump to their children and felt that that shouldn't be based on income, just as it should not be based on income for adults and other people," Dix said, according to a draft Hansard transcript on the legislature Web site.

Dix, who has Type 1 diabetes, posed for a picture injecting himself with a needle  for a 2007 Georgia Straight cover story on the disease.

At the time, a Vancouver parent, Cheryl Simpson, told the Straight that it drove her nuts that the B.C. government wouldn't pay for insulin pumps for kids from low-income families.

The device cost the Simpson family $7,000, and required another $4,000 in annual operating costs. But she said that it regulated the flow of insulin into her daughter Ellery's bloodstream, reducing the likelihood of her suffering from complications from the disease later in life by 30 percent.

Those complications can  include blindness, organ failures, and amputations.

At the time, the Ontario government was funding the devices, but B.C. wasn't. Thanks to the efforts of Simpson and others, that changed a year-and-a-half later.

"This morning members on our side of the House and on the government side of the House heard from Brian Pettit, who's one of those advocates, from Nanaimo," Dix said, according to  the draft Hansard transcript.  "His son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he says, on July 27, 2007. He remembers the day; he'll remember it his entire life. He asked himself that day: who will advocate for children such as my son? And then he became one of the leading advocates on Vancouver Island in the last two years, painting Nanaimo blue during diabetes month. He does an extraordinary job."

Here are the rest of Dix's remarks:

"We heard, as the member for Burquitlam said, from William Vandenbrooke who is in grade 6 — he's 11 years old — who also uses the insulin pump and talked eloquently about his daily struggles with diabetes. It almost cost him his life in a drowning accident, and the insulin pump makes him able to live a life like all his friends.

"Catherine Brian, Ian William and all the advocates we heard today suffering from Type 1 and type 2 diabetes remind us that the equipment, the nutrition and the supplies that children with diabetes need should not be based on income. We thank them for what they told us today."