By Lauren Herman

One of the many joys in life is becoming a parent, but it can also be one of the scariest experiences, especially if your child is diagnosed with a major illness. This parental nightmare became a reality for TEDxSacramento speaker, Dr. Edward Damiano, whose son, David, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, TEDxSacramento highlights Dr. Damiano’s talk, “The Bionic Pancreas,” in which he shares his amazing journey as a parent and researcher trying to create a better future for his diabetic son.

Once thought to be a death sentence, patients are now able to reduce long-term complications through managing their blood glucose levels, but many find the tools are not available to make continual management easy.

Dr. Damiano knew that he and his wife could keep David healthy, but he was concerned with what could happen when David leaves home for college. The responsibility of management would land on the shoulders of his son – a tough task for one person, especially a teenager.

A dream of a better life for his son resulted in the creation of the bionic pancreas - a collaborative effort between Dr. Damiano and his colleagues at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Never before has such a technology revolutionized the lives of patients and their families.

The one and only fully integrated, fully automated bihormonal bionic pancreas.

The one and only fully integrated, fully automated bihormonal bionic pancreas.

The bionic pancreas is a portable medical device that is programmed to the specifics of the type 1 diabetes patient to automatically adjust day or night taking over diabetes management.

It solves four of the leading concerns in type 1 diabetes management.

1.     Reduces glucose levels.

2.     Controls hypoglycemia.

3.     Unburdens patients and families with the stress of therapy compliance. (The device complies with the patient rather than the other way around.)

4.     Unburdens patients and families with the emotional stress and fear of long-term complications.

On the TEDxSacramento stage, Dr. Damiano states, “People with type 1 diabetes have been told for decades that the cure is five years away, but I can tell you with great sadness that there is no cure...The bionic pancreas is no cure, but it is a bridge to a cure. The bionic pancreas is a sturdy bridge to a cure. It is the ever extendable bridge to the ever elusive cure.”

The story of David’s son has not ended. What motivated Dr. Damiano’s research becomes a reality next year – David is college bond. Even though there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, the same worries do not haunt Dr. Damiano and his wife because of the bionic pancreas.

Instead, they can focus on David getting his license and the other adventures yet ahead for their teenage son. Once a death sentence is now a speed bump in life with careful management and assistance from technological advances of a bionic pancreas that was inspired from the ideas and work of a father for his son.

Celebrate more ideas worth spreading by attending the upcoming TEDxSacramento2016 on February 12th - register now!