Tattoos could improve health care

Sarah Dodd decided to get "Type 1 Diabetic" tattooed around her wrist, rather than wearing a medical alert bracelet

Many people get tattoos to make a statement or memorialize a loved one.

A new trend in tattooing has tattoo artists designing tattoos that mimic medical alert jewelry.

Medical alert tattoos are oftentime located on the same parts of the body where medical alert jewelry would be, such as around the wrist on on the chest.

Sarah Dodd found out she had Type 1 diabetes when she was 2-years-old. She's been monitoring her blood sugar her entire life, but wants to make sure that if she does need emergency care, people will be aware of her condition.

"I thought a tattoo would be a perfect way to let people know without being committed to a chain or a bracelet and having to worry about it breaking," Dodd said.

Dodd's Medical alert tattoo is part of a growing trend. Above and Beyond Tattoo has seen about 1 or 2 requests for medical tattoos per year, but the demand is increasing.

"I'm a type 1 diabetic. For the longest time I've worn the bracelet and honestly, I'd break it, lose it, it would just get annoying, you would have to take it off every once and awhile. After awhile whenever I turned 18 I thought I might as well get it tattooed on, I'll never lose it, never break it," Jackson Varney explained.

Dodd and Varney both learned about medical alert tattoos at a camp for diabetic youth. Now that these campers are counselors, they are passing the idea along to parents of other youth with diabetes who have been surprisingly receptive to the idea.

"I get a lot of comments from campers mothers and their family members and they think it's a really good idea. It's something you can't lose, it's always going to be on you. It's a cool new thing the younger kids like and think about doing one day," Varney said.

Medical alert tattoos can also be used to display severe allergies or heart problems. For Type 1 diabetics, the tattoo could help first responders treat her quicker and more efficiently if she ever had a medical emergency.

Local paramedics said they are starting to see medical alert tattoos in Quincy. A tattoo designating someone as a diabetic could help them identify a patients needs and treat them. However, it is not likely they would respond to a "Do not resuscitate" tattoo.

Medical alert jewelry is still the standard for identifying medical conditions.