Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sir Frederick Banting

On October 31, 1920, Sir Frederick Banting awoke to scribble down some notes regarding an idea he had that involved separating a hormone produced by the pancreas. These "scribbles" along with the ideas of Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod, and J.B. Collip developed into what the world now knows as insulin.
In January 1922, Leonard Thompson, a 14 year old boy with diabetes, laid dying in Toronto General Hospital. The young boy had been diabetic since 1919. He weighed only 65 pounds and was about to slip into a coma and die, but hope was on his side. Thompson became the first human being to receive an insulin injection. Because of this miracle, he lived another 13 years. Thompson died from pneumonia at age 27.
In the 1920's children dying from diabetic keto-acidosis were kept in large wards, often with 50 or more patients in a ward, mostly comatose. Grieving family members were often in attendance, awaiting the inevitable death. In one of medicine's more dramatic moments Banting, Best, and Collip went from bed to bed, injecting an entire ward with insulin. Before they had reached the last dying child, the first few were awakening from their coma, to the joyous exclamations of their families.

Do I love diabetes? No. Am I grateful for diabetes? Not really. But I am grateful that it is now a disease that is managed and not a disease that kills.
Sir Frederick Banting was born November 14, 1891.
November 14 is also World Diabetes Day.
Because of this man's accomplishment he saved, and continues to save, millions of lives.
My daughter is one of those millions.


Joanne said...

I am proud that I share a nationality with this man. Before Elise was diagnosed with diabetes, I never knew a Canadian was responsible for saving so many lives.

Anonymous said...

I read about this recently. I don't remember where, but when I saw this post I was like oh yeah! I knew that!:) I'm glad that his discovery has been able to keep so many kids and adults alive!

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