I feel pretty invested in this day–November 14th–each year. World Diabetes Day…
Frederick (Fred) Banting, who would have been 122 today (!) was one half of the Canadian duo (the other was Charles Best) who by discovering insulin, prolonged the life of my mother Molly Ellis and millions of other diabetics worldwide.
“With the relief of the symptoms of his disease, and with the increased strength and vigor resulting from the increased diet, the pessimistic, melancholy diabetic becomes optimistic and cheerful. Insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it is a treatment.”
Sir Frederick Banting, Nobel Prize Lecture, 1923
Dr. Banting and Dr. Charles Best (a medical student at the time) worked together at the University of Toronto where they discovered a method to extract the hormone, insulin. It was a fundamental breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.
Insulin is central to regulating (metabolizing) sugar and carbohydrate in the body. Without it there was little hope of survival for millions who, like my mother, were diagnosed with Type 1.
On January 23rd, 1922–a historic date–they tested their insulin serum on 14-year-old Leonard Thompson–who experienced almost instant relief. He survived into his thirties.
My mother, Molly, often referred to Banting and Best as her saviours–and they were. Diagnosed in her mid-thirties, she survived for over 30 years, dying from a diabetes-related heart attack at the age of 68.
Millions of people have diabetes but are ignorant of it (for Type 2, there are often no symptoms in the early stage). It’s diagnosed by a simple blood test.