A neighborhood dad’s concern leads to an invention that could help diabetics
When Kevin McMahon’s daughter Darby was barely two years old, she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. McMahon and his wife Kristin learned their toddler would need daily insulin injections. But that would be just the beginning of her treatment.
“Insulin is life support,” McMahon says. “If she doesn’t have that, she’ll die. But there are lots of other things you have to do. It’s a constant balancing act, and it can be very difficult to determine what’s going on.”
Darby must test her glucose levels eight to 12 times a day, to know whether to correct them with a meal, a snack or medication.
McMahon knew that once she began school, Darby would have to take her glucose meter with her for testing throughout the day. He wondered how he and Kristin could make sure that was being done.
“I just assumed a remote monitoring system would be available,” he says. “Shortly after Darby was diagnosed, I started looking around for one, and once I found out there wasn’t something like that available, I spent the next three years putting one together.”
McMahon quit his software sales and consulting career to form his own company, Diabetech, and develop the product. The result is GlucoMON, a small wireless computer that fits inside the case of a glucose meter. When patients test their blood sugar levels, it automatically sends messages to their caregivers, letting them know that the test was done and what the results were.
The benefit for parents, McMahon says, is peace of mind that their children are staying healthy throughout the day, without repeated phone calls and questions.
For the patients, it can prevent a serious medical emergency or just help them have a better day.
Thirty GlucoMONs are now in use, and a national marketing effort starts later this summer. The devices retail for about $399 (visit diabetech.net), which includes one year of service.
What did it take for McMahon to create the new product and new company?
“A lot of learning, a lot of just picking up the phone and talking to people, being introduced to people who could help us and advise us,” he says.
Many of those people live in our neighborhood, including McMahon’s chief technology officer, Eric Link, and his wife, Angela, and vice president of corporate communications Hilary Hale and her husband, Eddie.
“It’s really been a family thing for all of us,” McMahon says. “In a start-up, you really end up asking a lot of your families.”
Then again, if it weren’t for families, this start-up never would have happened.
“If it didn’t have the emotional connection, it probably would have been a big decision to do something like this,” he says. “But to me, it just seemed like this is what I’m supposed to do. I thought, ‘Gee, it needs to be done.’ I know how to do it, so it was kind of a no-brainer.
“Now I couldn’t imagine going back and doing something less worthwhile.”
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