Family’s search for missing insulin pump

Missing: the black device on the left went missing from Brunton's Bridge on Australia Day. photograph supplied.

Alyssa Fritzlaff

A family are desperately searching for an insulin pump left at Brunton’s Bridge, south of Walhalla, on Australia Day.

While enjoying a family day out at the bridge, 10-year-old Xavier Willis removed his insulin pump to enjoy a swim.

The high needs medical device, used to manage Xavier’s type one diabetes, was placed in a black bum bag and later placed with car keys near the family’s car.

The family, who does not live in the region, checked the area before departing at 4:30pm, believing they had taken all their belongings.

Xavier’s mother, Rachel Willis said it was not until they returned home that they released the important device was missing.

“We are devastated by the loss of his insulin pump,” Ms Willis said.

“I am totally beside myself, and we cannot afford to replace this item.”

Ms Willis’ husband returned to the bridge and began searching, but he could not find the pump or the black bag anywhere.

The pump, a AMSL Tandem Slim Insulin pump is a small black device, with a grey square on one end that has a black T shape on it. The device is set up for Xavier specifically and delivers insulin, monitors glucose levels and alarms when his levels are too low or too high.

The pump turns off insulin supply prior to predicted hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) occurring, a condition which is life threatening. The family have narrowly escaped hospital before, when ketones developed in Xavier’s blood. Ketones, if left untreated, can poison the body. For this reason, the pump is not supposed to be off a person’s body for more than two hours.

Ms Willis said that not having the pump reduces her son’s quality of life, preventing him from doing many of the things he normally does and making it more difficult for caregivers to manage his diabetes. Particularly at school, where teachers must actively monitor his condition.

“Xavier usually would only need one needle every three days with the pump, but without it he has to have a minimum of four needles every single day,” Ms Willis explained.

Additionally, Xavier is having to restrict his usual diet to manage his diabetes and reduce the number of needles he has to endure.

Ms Willis has spent the last week ringing all surrounding police stations and contacting insurance and insulin pump companies. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, companies that distribute insulin pumps are having supply issues and Ms Willis was told they do not have the stock to replace Xavier’s.

With supply shortages and health care staff shortages, if this pump is not found it could take a long time for Xavier to get a new one.

Ms Willis made a post to Facebook on January 28 after trying to locate the device, contacting insurance companies and pump providers.

Her post was met by an outpouring of concern from commenters, many of whom sympathised with her and even offered to check the site themselves.

“We would like to thank everyone who reached out on Facebook, the community in the area has been really amazing,” Ms Willis said.

Xavier’s family is urging anyone who comes across the device, or has found the device, to return it.

This can be done by calling the AMSL phone number on the back of the pump and providing Xavier’s pumps serial number: 882774