Diabetic Teen Gets Pioneering Implant

Doctors at a South Coast hospital are the first in the world to fit a teenager with an implant that could help to tackle the growing childhood type 2 diabetes and obesity crisis.

Diabetic Victoria Parr, 17, from Lymington, was fitted with the EndoBarrier - a non-surgical device placed in the upper intestine via the mouth that reduces the need for medication to treat the condition and aids weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 2.5 million people in the UK, can run in families, but is also associated with an inactive lifestyle, being overweight and poor diet, and is increasingly common among children and young adults.

The condition develops when a person becomes resistant to insulin - a hormone released by the pancreas to drive glucose (sugar) from the blood stream into muscles and organs to fuel the body.

It increases the risk of heart and kidney failure in the long term, and can lead to stroke, blindness and nerve damage.

The EndoBarrier is a small plastic sleeve which stays in the body for up to 12 months and acts as a barrier to prevent food being absorbed and ensures it bypasses a section of the upper intestine, allowing less time for digestion and improving the resistance to insulin.

Victoria, a beauty therapy student at Brockenhurst College, had the device fitted on the NHS by a team led by Dr Nikki Davis, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, and James Byrne, a consultant surgeon, at Southampton General Hospital in what the experts said was a world first.

''This is potentially a major addition to the treatments currently available for severe type 2 diabetes and obesity in teenagers, and could help to address the progression of the condition and the early development of complications in an increasing number of cases among children and adolescents,'' said Dr Davis.

''Victoria's is a particularly severe case in that she was unable to tolerate a number of different medications for type 2 diabetes and has rapidly progressive diabetes despite trying very hard with diet and exercise.

''This meant she had to rely on insulin injections to control her diabetes, which we know can prevent weight loss.''

She added: ''The EndoBarrier is easy and quick to insert and is a reversible procedure with a low risk of complications and, therefore, could be a safe way to dramatically improve the treatment of severe type 2 diabetes and obesity in young people, though it is still vital that young people on weight reduction programmes receive full support from the weight management team before, during and after weight loss procedures in order to ensure long-term success.''

Victoria said of the procedure: ''Until now there has not really been anything available for people like me who have been on regular exercise and healthy eating programmes but have been unable to lose weight due to medication or other reasons, but this provides the hope that sufferers can reduce medication to very minor levels and take back control of their body to eventually beat the condition and the complications it can bring in later life.''

The procedure was trialled on adult patients last year by Mr Byrne and his colleague Jamie Kelly in collaboration with two other UK hospitals.

It is performed under a short general anaesthetic and sees patients return home within two to three hours.

So far, patients fitted with the EndoBarrier have achieved weight loss of more than 20% (on average 3.5 stone) of their total body weight while requiring less medication.

The sleeve is also performing as well so far as the more invasive gastric band procedure in helping weight loss.

Mr Byrne added: ''Over the course of a year we expect Victoria to reset her metabolic clock and she will be given support throughout to sustain the health benefits once the device is removed, which should then help her to maintain the reduced need for medication and, possibly, eliminate it altogether.''