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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Burglar swipes diabetic's monitor

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

When Carlos Hernandez awoke Saturday morning, he knew he was in trouble. His Makiki home had been burglarized, and his essential glucose meter was missing.

Hernandez, a type 1 diabetic, is dependent on monitoring his glucose to give himself insulin injections to survive.

"The meter was on my table in my room," said Hernandez. "It kind of looks like a wallet. It's black and has a zipper. I'm sure when he opened it up he was surprised."

It was about 4:30 a.m. when the burglar entered the Makiki Heights Drive home shared by Hernandez and three housemates.

The thief ate some food from the refrigerator and entered each bedroom, taking a backpack, a wallet and the meter before one resident awoke and scared the burglar off.

Hernandez, 49, is on disability following a heart attack last year. He tried to reach a doctor at the health clinic he used to get a new $150 meter, but the clinic was closed because it was Saturday.

"I called the pharmacy to see if I could make some arrangement to buy a new meter, maybe make a couple of payments," Hernandez said.

But when he told his story to Georgiana Kam, a pharmacist and owner of City Pharmacy, she gave him a slightly used demonstration model.

In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin. This requires people to inject insulin daily to survive and to keep their levels of blood sugar — glucose — under control. If glucose levels get too high, it increases the risk of complications such as blindness or kidney problems.

"A lot of the diabetics that come here pretty regularly," Kam said. "We try to help them out the best that we can. I know that (meter) is something that he needs. He uses it to give himself insulin. It is life and death for him."

Hernandez said it is rare to find someone who takes a personal concern about their customers and he is very grateful.

"It was great she was able to overlook the cost to help out a customer," he said. "I'm forever her customer now."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.