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Awesome Dad Builds DIY Artificial Pancreas for His Diabetic Son

When little Andrew Calabrese’s pancreas gave out at age three, leaving him with a lifelong diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, his parents Heidi and Jason wanted to do everything possible help him through the life altering disease. While Heidi set-up a support group to connect with other families battling the illness, Jason, a software engineer, devoted his time to building a device that could help regulate his son’s insulin levels.

He eventually succeeded in building an artificial pancreas system using OpenAPS (Open Artificial Pancreas System), a free online project that makes APS technology widely available to anyone who wants to save lives and reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes. Developed by 27-year-old Type 1 diabetic Dana Lewis in December 2014, OpenAPS provides “a safety-focused reference design, a toolset, and an open source reference implementation that can be used by any individual – or any medical device manufacturer.”

Using these instructions, Jason spent two months learning how to hack an old insulin pump to automatically keep blood glucose (BG) levels in a safe range – both overnight and in between meals. He added a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that would provide BG data to the pump, and command it to adjust the temporary basal rates accordingly. After ensuring the device’s safety, and getting their doctor’s approval, Andrew finally began using OpenAPS to keep his insulin levels in check. In fact, the third-grader even carries it to school in his backpack. “OpenAPS is there when I can’t be,” Jason said. “It’s cut the time Andrew spends below 80 mg/dL in half.”

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World Guy Rolls Giant Globe across America to Raise Awareness about Diabetes

“People don’t ask me if I’m crazy – they tell me I’m crazy” says Erik Bendl, also known as “World Guy“, a man who has spent most of the last few years trekking across the US rolling a giant globe.

Walking around 2,200 miles across 23 states is quite a challenge for any 48-year-old, but Mr Bendl decided to make it even tougher by rolling a 36-kg-heavy inflatable globe, everywhere he goes. It may sound useless and stupid, but it’s actually for a good cause – raising awareness about diabetes and the complications it causes.

World Guy lost his 54-year-old mother to diabetes, in 1987,and always wanted to do something memorable in her honor. In the late 1990s, he took the giant canvas globe he and his son used to play with and embarked on a 160-miles-long journey across Kentucky, for the American Diabetes Association, and also began walking in parades around the state. In 2007, after he and his wife got divorced, Erik Bendl set out on his first major trek across America, a 430-mile walk from Louisville to Pittsburgh.

Now, he’s halfway through his fifth long walk, talking to people he encounters and posting their stories on his blog, via the Blackberry smartphone hanging around his neck. He is accompanied by his dog, Nice, who loyally follows him on his daily 10-mile walks. When he completes his daily trek, he returns to his van, drives it to the spot he ended his walk, sleeps and does it all again the next day.

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