Insulin supply hit by COVID-19 panic

Ange Liston-McCaughley with diabetic daughter Lila and her three boys Ollie, Leo and Paddy.

By Luke Voogt

Belmont mother-of-four Ange Liston-McCaughley is sending emergency diabetes supplies across Australia during the coronavirus crisis while, like many Geelong parents, home-schooling her children.

“We’re just winging it to be honest – I think everybody is,” she told the Independent.

Ange founded Type 1 Foundation in 2015 for daughter Lila, 16, after her sudden diagnosis of diabetes at age nine.

They began home-schooling Lila two weeks ago and stopped her working shifts at KFC to “be on the safe side”, she said.

“We’re just trying to keep her healthy and entertained, which is hard for a teenager.”

Diabetics were not more susceptible to coronavirus infection but any chronic disease could worsen its affects, Ange said.

“Definitely having a child with a chronic disease, there’s always that little extra bit of worry.”

Since Lila’s diagnosis, Ange has kept a month’s supply of insulin in advance.

But recently she was unable to buy any insulin at her local pharmacy in Belmont and had to drive to Torquay to find some, she said.

“We’re just finding there’s no supplies. It’s similar to what’s happened with the supermarkets. I don’t doubt it’s been happening because people are panicked.”

Diabetes Australia had assured Ange the coronavirus had caused no insulin shortages, she said.

But many families across Geelong and Australia had been unable to access supplies at pharmacies due to high demand.

“Sometimes the wait, we’re finding, is 10 days to two weeks. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin or they will die.”

Type 1 Foundation has kept a “bank” of supplies, including insulin pumps and pens, since its inception, Ange said.

Recently the foundation had sent supplies to those in rural Victoria and New South Wales affected by unprecedented bushfires.

“Now we’re sending out packages daily to families that need it.”

The foundation was connecting diabetic families so they share items with those low on supplies and, just as importantly, stay in touch through video chats, she said.

“Hopefully that can help others that are feeling anxious – letting them know that they’re not alone.”

Ange’s workload increased again this week after pulling Lila’s three “very active” younger brothers out of school.

“This week, I think, is going to be testing,” Ange said.

“They don’t understand [why] they can’t leave home. We’re distancing ourselves from their grandparents too, so that’s hard.”

To worsen matters, her husband Leif McCaughley, a carpenter, lost his job on Wednesday due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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