A young boy's terrifying brush with death propelled him straight into the record books, and he's lucky he's alive to talk about it.
Michael Patrick Buonocore was just six years old when his blood sugar level spiked to 21 times the safe level, leaving him in serious danger.
The Raritan, New Jersey, USA, resident unintentionally broke the record for highest blood sugar level on 23 March 2008, when his level reached a whopping 2,656.
A blood sugar reading of 126 or below is considered normal. At 500, coma becomes a risk. Untreated, sky-high blood sugar kills.
Michael, now 21, was on vacation in Pennsylvania for Easter with his family when he first began feeling ill.
“At first we thought it was just a common cold, so we did not do much,” he recounted.
“There was no reason for concern.”
But after three days of symptoms and feeling progressively worse, Michael began losing the ability to walk on his own without support.
His parents quickly drove him to a nearby hospital where he fainted.
“I would not wake up until I was at Robert Wood Johnson in New Jersey,” said Michael.
“It was only then I was told that I was flown there in a helicopter and that I have something called type 1 diabetes.”
Michael was kept in hospital for two weeks, and the whole thing came as quite a shock to him and his family, who had no idea he had the condition in the first place.
“The doctors not only saved my life but guided me and my parents into teaching us how to take care of my blood sugar to make sure it does not happen again,” said Michael.
“For the most part it was/is me and my parents that prevent it from rising anymore.”
Michael says he can feel when his blood sugar is on the rise, although it can be a bit tricky to stop it from doing so.
However, Michael says there are preventative steps he can take to maintain a normal blood sugar range.
Today, Michael must take insulin since his pancreas doesn’t create any on its own.
“When it gets fairly high it feels like my nerve endings are much more sensitive so walking and moving can feel achy or even a little painful sometimes,” described Michael.
“Since I have been diabetic for so long, I have sort of trained my mind so when I go high, I immediately think I need to give the proper amount of insulin to lower my levels to the appropriate amount.”
Michael wears an insulin pump which gives him a steady dose of insulin throughout the day so his levels do not spike and when he eats, he must manually enter the carb amount consumed.
Michael also makes sure to follow a healthy diet and an intense workout regimen.
Although it is not necessary for managing his diabetes, it helps him to maintain his levels and overall health.
“Overall, I would say I’m in the best shape of my life so far,” said Michael.
“I feel good, and I have all the necessary tools required to keep myself healthy.”
Doctors told Michael and his family that it was a miracle he survived.
“That quote has a big impact on my story because it was the inspiration to start our non-profit charity, aptly named Michaels Miracles.”
Michael says he uses his record title as motivation and even has his certificate hanging in his bedroom so it’s one of the first things he sees when he wakes up.
“To me it represents the indomitable human spirit, the way us humans can get through any obstacle thrown our way no matter how daunting,” he said.
“I see it as in my darkest moments even though I was around seven years old I still came out on top and was able to survive and adapt.”
Michael also says his friends are thrilled to know a record holder.
“Whenever my friends introduce me to someone new, they also say something along the lines of ‘Oh, the world record holder’ which usually elicits a laugh out of me,” he said.
“My family think it’s very cool as well.”
Michael first realized he could potentially have a shot at the record thanks to his older brother, Thomas.
“He had an older Guinness World Records book and saw that someone in it had the old record for it and asked my parents if I beat it,” said Michael.
“So, we took to finding out, and when it came back that I ended up beating that record, it was a crazy moment where I as a young kid realized that I was one in seven billion for something, and that was a truly humbling and exciting experience.”
Although thrilled to hold a record for the highest blood sugar level, Michael says being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or other similar health issues can be very daunting.
“Focus on getting used to checking your levels and taking the proper insulin that you need. As difficult as it may be, you will get better at it,” he said.
“And never let it stop you from doing what you love, just find ways to help yourself and find what works for you.”
Although Michael does not intend on breaking any other records, he is glad to be able to use his record title to bring awareness to the importance of insulin for diabetics.
“Do whatever you can to actively try and lower insulin prices in America and around the world, if need be,” he said.
“There are some unfortunate circumstances where families can't afford insulin and that's truly heart-breaking to hear about.”
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