Dec 7 2005 Paisley Daily Express
BRAVE St Mirren goalkeeper Chris Smith yesterday told how he won't let diabetes prevent him from getting his hands on football glory.
The Saints star was diagnosed with diabetes when he was just two years old and has to have four painful insulin injections every day.
But 19-year-old Chris has refused to let the illness shatter his dreams of winning football's top honours.
He has already established himself as the Buddies' first choice goalie this season and, last month, helped the Paisley club to win the Bell's Cup.
Now Chris has joined forces with Barrhead teenager Martyn Carr to back a campaign which aims to ensure a revolutionary diabetes treatment is offered to more people suffering from the debilitating condition.
The Love Street favourite is urging the Scottish Executive to make hi-tech Insulin Pump Therapy (IPT) more widely available.
Currently, only a small percentage of people across the country qualify for the treatment, which dramatically reduces the number of injections diabetics need to receive.
Only those who meet strict criteria laid down by independent organisation the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) are allowed to use IPT.
But Chris believes more people should be given the chance to try the therapy.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: "I have to have four injections a day because of my diabetes, which is hard going.
"It's not easy to deal with day in, day out, but I don't let my condition affect how I play in the team.
"This pump therapy seems like a really good idea and I'll be speaking to my GP about it.
"It has made a big difference to Martyn's life and anything that would improve the lives of other diabetics and reduce the number of injections they need to have is a good thing."
Martyn, 17, has lived with diabetes since he was five and, like Chris, he underwent a gruelling daily regime of injections to administer life-saving insulin to keep his blood sugar levels under control.
The jabs were part of a strict programme of medicine and careful dieting that was necessary to keep Martyn healthy and to lower his chances of suffering side-effects like blindness and limb amputation.
But now his life has been transformed after he found out about IPT while he was on a family holiday to Florida.
The pump therapy means the apprentice mechanic, whose 46-year-old mum Rosalind helps to provide the catering at Love Street, has cut the number of injections he needs from 1,460 a year to just 180.
IPT users slide a tiny flexible needle under their skin and then attach a small battery operated device that administers the insulin when needed.
Unlike the old treatment, the needle can remain under the skin for days at a time, eliminating the need for repeated injections. The hi-tech gadget also makes it easier to control how much of the drug goes into your body.
But Martyn, his dad Martin and mum Rosalind had to battle for years for the right to receive the pump, which costs around £2,000 per patient.
Driving instructor Martin, 47, said: "I only discovered the pump by accident when we were at a diabetes convention in Florida and, when I tried to get it for my son back in Scotland, it took two years of fighting.
"I went to ministers at the Scottish Executive and no-one wanted to know. There is very little information out there about IPT but it has had such an amazing impact on Martyn's life.
"He has more energy now and has much more control over how much insulin he is taking.
"The knock-on effects of this condition are devastating, like kidney failure and blindness, but this new pump helps to reduce the risk of that ever happening to Martyn, which is fantastic for him.
"The criteria that people must meet to be given this pump are completely unrealistic and must be changed. The Executive needs to do more to make this treatment known."
However, a spokeswoman for the Executive said ministers had agreed the pump therapy will only be given to those patients that meet the NICE criteria.
She added: "Guidance on use of the pumps was introduced by NICE in February 2003 and that is what we follow. Any changes in use would have to be led by that organisation."