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Wednesday, January 26 2011, 10:40 PM CST MADISON (WMSN) -- The first diabetic patient in Wisconsin ever to use an insulin pump, talks about that experience.

It's been 30 years since - Bill Sterna tried out the pump, that millions of patients use today to regulate their blood sugar levels.


Bill Sterna was 17 when he was introduced to the pump.


He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 14-years-old.


His pancreas cannot make insulin, controlling blood sugar levels.


Not much was known on how to treat diabetes in 1974.


"It was only one shot a day and it was a pretty good size needle," said Bill Sterna, the first insulin pump patient in Wisconsin.


Three years later, Bill's mother discovered something promising, insulin pumps.


"I brought it up to Dr. MacDonald and he was looking for somebody and said are you interested and I said yeah! Absolutely," said Sterna.


The hope was for it to release small doses of insulin in bill's body, as needed.


"The minute I went on the pump - it dropped down into a normal range," said Bill.


Bill's gone through eight pumps since then. His latest is the size of a beeper.


The pump tests his patients blood sugar every five minutes, and if it's too high or low, an alarm goes off.


"50% OF MY PATIENTS ARE USING THE PUMP, EVEN AS YOUNG AS 2-years-old," said Dr. MacDonald with the American Family Children's Hospital.


While the Badger State has come a long way treating diabetes, the CDC is projecting the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the next 30 years will triple.


"Obesity causes insulin-resistance and that is the reason for the epidemic all over the world - especially in teens," said Dr. MacDonald.


Looking into the future, Dr. MacDonald holds hope bill and all of his patients will no longer use an insulin pump at all.


"I tell them there will likely be a cure for diabetes in their lifetime," said Dr. MacDonald.


The doctor says stem cell research will likely help us get to that cure.


Another incredibly important regimen Dr. MacDonald adds - is making sure patients exercise to live a healthy life.

For more information about diabetes, including the symptoms click here.
First diabetic patient to use insulin pump shares experience, 30 years later

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