Children with diabetes: Virginia families fight for rights

STAFFORD, Va. (WJLA) - Annika Natividad was only seven years old when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

"This is my diabetes purse, my meter..." she explains. With the prick of a finger, she checks her blood sugar level up to six times a day by using an insulin pump. She receives 20 to 30 units of insulin a day -- but she isn't allowed to do so just anywhere.

Annika's parents -- along with six other Virginia families -- are currently fighting to remove obstacles they say they faced when they sent their diabetic children to public schools in Virginia. They want their children to be able to carry their supplies with them and not have to lock them in a nurse’s office.

According to the NIH, students should be able to check levels if they start feeling anything coming on in order to catch it quickly. The NIH also adds that you shouldn't have to ask a child having a seizure to walk down to the nurse's office.

These parents want their children to be able to check their blood sugar anywhere they need to do it. But Natividad says her teacher once asked her to go into a classroom closet to check her levels.

“I am allowed to do this anywhere I can – why am I in the closet?" asks Annika.

The Natividads also recommend that at least two staff members in every Virginia school be trained in using the proper medical equipment:

“Someone who has had sufficient training to know the difference between slipping a decimal point -- between giving 1 unit or 10 units can mean life or death.”

That fine line caused the family to move Annika to a private school where she is allowed to carry her supplies and where her teacher is fully trained on the equipment.

We reached out to Stafford County Public Schools, where Annika used to be a student, and they said that federal regulations prevent them from talking about a specific student's case.

Bottom line, these families are hoping the Virginia House Bill -- 134 Diabetes Care for Students -- which goes to subcommittee this week becomes state law. It sets statewide standards for training and also dictates that students can carry their supplies with them and test their blood sugar anywhere in school.

It’s a fight for this family, who says their daughter has been nothing but brave.