You most likely know someone who has diabetes. Even though it is relatively common, it's still not an easy condition to manage. Most people take their regularly-working pancreas' for granted, not realizing how important it is and how it's working in our own bodies.
Dutch software engineer, Liam Zebedee, who struggles with diabetes, had enough of the currently poor quality of monitoring insulin levels available for diabetics and built his very own artificial pancreas.
As a quick refresher in biology, the pancreas secretes enzymes, or our digestive juices, into our lower intestines to break down foods. It also produces the hormone insulin into our bloodstream, to regulate our sugar levels.
It's very handy when it functions properly, and a nightmare when it doesn't.
Building a pancreas from scratch
Zebedee took his insulin pump and transformed it into a high-tech, new and improved artificial pancreas.
He detailed his entire process, from the moment he started conjuring up the idea, to which parts he ordered, and then how he built it - all available to read on his personal blog.
The end result?
An open-source coding operating system that runs the software, all of which controls his insulin pump. Gone are the days of estimating his insulin injections.
Furthermore, the entire cost of the creation was under $1,000, and now Zebedee simply has to pay $225 for the monthly cost of the glucose sensors, which typically last two weeks, and the developer software.
Zebedee still had to pay for his actual pump, and also continues to pay for the cost of his insulin supply each month.
Controlling his own health
For Zebedee, this was about making diabetes a more manageable condition, as well as taking his medical health into his own hands.
In his blog, Zebedee explains in full how frustrating it can be dealing with doctors and medical red tape every year.
He also explains how Western medicine simply treats and doesn't look further into properly analyzing these types of life-altering medical conditions.
Enough was enough, so he decided to build his own artificial pancreas to function as closely as possible to a regular one.
Having this machine working for him now, regulating and knowing exactly how much insulin he requires depending on how much sleep, carbohydrates or alcohol he's had, has made his life much smoother and simpler.