Looking for information on how to set up an insulin pump for a friend in Tunisia

My name is Michael Mc Cann; I am a commercial airline pilot and am trying to help out a friend struggling with type 1.

There are many lifestyle and social challenges for this young girl.
The goal of this effort is to give her more freedom and choice in her life.
After some discussion, I think it would be best to try to provide her with an insulin pump.
I am new to the details surrounding this goal but am very willing to learn from people like you deal with this every day.
Insulin pumps are not available to her at the moment and I would be interested in hearing your ideas on the subject.

Thank you in advance

Hi Michael,

A pump is an awsome tool for blood sugar control, but diabetes is a highly complex disease. In my opinion, medical care, supplies of medication and supervision would be really important for anyone struggling with T1DM along with lifestyle and social challenges.

If you’re interested, pick up and do a quick read in a book called Pumping Insulin by John Walsh, to get an idea of the issues and committments with an insulin pump. You see, the pump itself is great, but 24 X 7 technical support, local expertise, and a very robust supply chain is required for all of us on a pump. The pump is the most expensive of all delivery methods of insulin for T1 diabetes and so are the supplies (consumables). It’s about 5-6 grand for a pump and the supplies are at least US$100 per month, and this doesn’t include the fast acting insulin at nearly $100 a bottle. If your friend in Tunisia is very poor or disadvantaged, would it be better to get her the pump or almost 4 years of syringes, lispro insulin, vitamins, and other vital supplies and doctor visits?

You fly, just picture owning your own commercial jet aircraft. You can imagine there’s more to it than just needing a pilot.

All the best in your noble effots! There are a lot of us here and many of us pump too.

Joe - T1 for 31 years and pumping away happily the last 2

I’m with Joe on this - pumping is complex. To use one effectively, you need to have a sound understanding of basal rates, carb to insulin ratios, correction ratios, technical knowledge of the pump and supplies, support from a diabetes educator/pump educator, doctor etc. and the cost of pumping as well - In Canadas, and infusion set is about $27 dollars apiece, and you change them every three days. Along with the rest of the supplies (testing strips, resevoirs etc.) it comes to about $1000. per month.

If the young girl doesn’t have the right support for a pump, an alternative would be MDI therapy using a long acting insulin like Levemir or Lantus along with a rapid acting insulin like Humulog. This therapy is also sometimes called “the poor man’s pump”, and is what I did for quite a while before I switched to a pump. While it doesn’t provide basals that can be changed throughout the day, you can change your basals throughout the month if needed. The user can adjust the humulog for meals as needed, provided flexibility. If the long acting insulin is fine tuned, a person can go ahead and skip meals, just like a pump user can.

Hi Michael,

I applaud your efforts for wanting to help your friend. I agree with what the others have said thus far that pumping insulin does require a great deal more attention than perhaps multiple daily injections. There are many more things to keep up with in terms of supplies and of course having the proper training is essential. If you haven’t already and would like to talk to a pump representative you might want to check out “Medtronic Diabetes Middle East” and make an inquiry about the possibilities. They might be able to give you some good resources or suggestions for your quest. Here are a couple links:



Also some of the links on the left of this site under the videos section might be worth checking out for further information on various organizations that could be helpful.

Good luck!

Joe, Maureen and Alison,
Thank you very much for helping me understand the complexities much more. I will now be able to start asking better questions regarding the feasibility of this project. I appreciate all of your efforts in sitting down and explaining some of the details I am faced with. I will certainly keep you up to date on any progress/findings we make along the way.
Attached is a copy of Sihem, whom I’m trying to help.
8655-Sihem.JPG (91.1 KB)