Widower Scott Craig, 42, is raising awareness of the US Omnipod device which was offered to his husband Paul McNairney, 39, via the NHS
Image: Digby Brown LLP / SWNS)
A heartbroken newlywed told how his husband died after a pump to treat diabetes apparently delivered four days worth of insulin in less than an hour.
Top lawyer Paul McNairney, 39, died last month after the Omnipod he was given by the NHS is said to have delivered 75 units of insulin in less than an hour.
The advocate, from the Gorbals in Glasgow, had been using the US-made insulin pump since July with no issues.
Four days before his wedding, Mr McNairney began using the device which was given to him by the NHS.
But after his death on November 10, it was seized by police and is now being analysed by health experts.
Brave widower Scott Craig, 42, only married Paul four months ago after a five-year romance.
The interior designer told of his heartache after believing his partner was having a lie in when he was falling into a coma.
Digby Brown LLP / SWNS)
“This device is used worldwide so people need to know what happened as even a single avoidable death is one too many,” he said.
Mr McNairney, who was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic at the age of two, was used to injecting himself with insulin four times per day and wore a sensor on his arm to track blood sugar levels.
But he wanted an Omnipod – a wearable pump that delivers insulin automatically – as it removed the need for numerous injections and came with a companion device to track data.
Insulet, the Massachusetts firm that makes the pods, makes new users complete practitioner-led training before they get their device.
Mr McNairney completed this training and on July 12 started wearing his pod after it was supplied by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – four days before his wedding.
“Paul lived with diabetes all his life so was mindful of everything,” Mr Craig said.
“He was an expert at managing his condition because he had to be.”
Digby Brown LLP / SWNS)
“It didn’t matter what was going on his life – preparing for massive court cases, illnesses, holidays, everything.”
On November 7, Mr Craig woke around 7am and left his husband to enjoy a lie-in following a busy week.
At 10.30am he looked in the bedroom and saw his partner was still lying in bed so continued to let him relax believing he was asleep.
But at 12.30pm when Mr Craig re-entered the bedroom he saw Mr McNairney was pale and dripping with sweat, which he recognised as a sign of being hypoglycaemic, so he used an emergency glucagon syringe.
Mr Craig said: “I’ve helped Paul before when he’s been hypoglycaemic – it’s something every partner of a diabetic gets used to.
“It should have made Paul come round in a few minutes but there was no response.”
Mr Craig called an ambulance and on arrival paramedics injected Paul with a massive dose of glucose that should have made him bolt upright, but nothing happened.
His husband was rushed to nearby Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but after several days in intensive care it was confirmed he suffered catastrophic and irreparable brain damage.
Mr McNairney passed away on November 10 after a decision was made to withdraw life support.
He was laid to rest at Glasgow Crematorium on December 15 surrounded by 200 family and friends while a further 100 loved ones who could not attend due to Covid watched via webcast.
Mr Craig added: “Paul was intelligent, kind and calm. He was also uncommonly humble and could instantly be friends with anyone.
“I don’t know how I’m meant to get over this – we only married five months ago.
“But as well as the loss it’s the questions that makes things worse.
“I can’t shake from my mind the fact that I was sitting in the next room relaxing with the dog while my husband lay dying in silence.
“But there is no way Paul died because of an oversight on his part.
“None. It’s just not possible.”
Mr Craig told of his need to know the exact cause of the tragedy and urged for health boards to immediately stop using Omnipods until their safety can be guaranteed.
Police Scotland seized Paul’s Omnipod which the COPFS forwarded to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for investigation.
An exact cause of death is still to be confirmed.
Firm Digby Brown said data from the device showed that at 8.40am Mr McNairney received a bolus dose of 16.9 units – enough to put him in a coma – as well as three more at 17.05 units – over the next 48 minutes, totalling 75 units.
In a typical night the pod should automatically administer 0.55 units of insulin every hour, known as a ‘basal dose’.
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Lawyers believe Mr McNairney could not have administered these doses as he would have been physically incapable and a working Omnipod is designed so it cannot deliver more than 30 units in one hour.
Mark Gibson, Head of Product Liability at Digby Brown, said: “Firstly, I commend Mr Craig talking about the loss of his husband in the hope of helping others – it takes great strength to do so.
“As I understand it a medical device is indeed being analysed by the authorities for any part it may have played in the death of Mr McNairney and in the meantime we will continue to support his loved ones and help them get the answers they deserve.”
A spokesperson for Insulet said: “Consumer safety is Insulet’s number one priority.
“Our products are highly regulated, and we have comprehensive controls and procedures in place to ensure the safety of our products.
“Insulet has been made aware of this unfortunate incident and is working with MHRA in the UK to obtain the device for further investigation.
“At this point, we do not have evidence of a device malfunction or performance issue.
“Further analysis will be conducted upon receiving the device.
“Insulet has been safely and effectively designing, manufacturing, and distributing the Omnipod(R) Insulin Management System for more than 15 years and it is safe to use as intended with a prescription.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Mr McNairney’s loved ones at this difficult time.”
A spokesman for NHS GGC added: “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and loved ones of Mr McNairney as they continue to mourn his loss.
“An investigation into the death by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is ongoing and, as such, we are not able to comment further at this time.”