KC teen with diabetes says new, one-of-a-kind technology has given him the gift of independence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- November is National Diabetes Month, and one Kansas City teenager is celebrating with a device that he says has given him the gift of independence.

Zach Jonas has Type 1 Diabetes, and as long as he can remember, he's had to track every food he eats and regularly test his blood sugar.

But now he has a device that takes away a lot of the guess work -- an insulin pump that he calls the artificial pancreas.

Artificial pancreas

“If I go high, it gives me extra insulin, and if I go low, it cuts off the insulin flow so my blood sugar naturally raises,” Jonas said.

Ryan McDonough, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children's Mercy Hospital, says this new device is one of a kind.

“This is the first technology that takes into account a patient`s blood sugars, and not just tells them what it is, but actually acts on what the blood sugar value is,” McDonough said.

For Jonas, a high-schooler dreaming of going to college out of state, the pump changes his future.

“So in college, I won't have my mom waking me up or making sure that I'm alive in the morning, so takes a lot of pressure off my roommate and myself,” Jonas said.

Jonas said he couldn't even drive without checking his blood sugar before. Now he knows he'll be safe.

McDonough said the artificial pancreas Jonas has is just the beginning.

“This is the first in the United States, and it's really paving the way for what the standard of diabetes care will be," he said.

He said every year Children's Mercy sees about 2,400 patients with diabetes -- and for all of those children, making diabetes easier to manage could literally save their lives.