Diabetes: Amputations a harsh reality

  • 15/10/2015
Diabetes: Amputations a harsh reality

By Ryan Bridge

Amputations – The dark side of diabetes.

More than 250,000 Kiwis have diabetes. It's the fastest growing long-term illness and has been increasing 7 percent every year for the past eight years.

It is important to note there are two types of diabetes. Type 1 cannot be prevented and insulin is taken four times a day and is often diagnosed at a young age.

But most people are Type 2. In these cases, it is preventable with a good diet and exercise.

Diabetes can damage nerves, blood vessels, reduce circulation and limb and toe amputations are the most debilitating outcomes.

Chris Mills has lost all the toes on her right foot and has to get bits of bone removed.

"You think it's such a dumb thing. But once you start getting gangrene in your feet and your toes are being chopped off you know that you're pretty well in trouble," says Ms Mills.

Story wanted to find out how many others, like Ms Mills, had limbs and toes amputated over the past few years.

But the Ministry of Health does not know. Despite it being dubbed the 'diabetes tsunami', the ministry does not know how many feet are being chopped off as a direct result of the incurable disease that's affecting so many Kiwis.

Their most recent figures are almost three years out of date showing between 500 and 600 amputations.

Figures obtained from Podiatry New Zealand based on findings from a Waikato study show 13 percent of diabetics are at risk of having their foot amputated.

That's more than 33,000 people on average across the country.

What's more, Podiatry New Zealand estimates the cost to taxpayers to be around $35,000 for one amputation.

That's $1.2 billion dollars for all those at risk.

Story investigates the necessity of taking a tougher approach and the importance of getting the message out there.

Watch the video for the full Story report.