The Gift of Life for Diabetes: The Discovery of Insulin

The Gift of Life for Diabetes: The Discovery of Insulin

Once upon a time, in the year 1922, a somber atmosphere pervaded the Toronto General Hospital. Within its wards, diabetic children, often 50 or more at a time, lay comatose and dying from diabetic ketoacidosis. These young souls were essentially awaiting what was then perceived as certain death. It was a heartbreaking scene, filled with despair and hopelessness.

Amidst this grim setting, a group of scientists arrived at the hospital with a mission that would change the course of medical history. Frederick Banting and Charles Best, under the guidance of John Macleod at the University of Toronto, were armed with a groundbreaking discovery — insulin.

With the assistance of James Collip, insulin was purified, making it a revolutionary treatment for diabetes. The year was 1922, and these scientists were about to perform an act of medical magic.

The scientists moved swiftly through the wards, injecting the comatose children with this newfound purified extract of insulin. As they approached the last child, an extraordinary event unfolded. The first child, who had been injected earlier, began to wake up. And then, like a ripple effect of life returning, one by one, all the children awakened from their diabetic comas.

The room, once filled with the impending gloom of death, suddenly transformed into a place of joy and hope. The miraculous revival of these children marked the beginning of a new era in the treatment of diabetes.

In recognition of their groundbreaking work, Frederick Banting and John Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923. Banting, only 32 at the time, displayed remarkable generosity by sharing half of the prize money with Charles Best, his 24-year-old assistant.

But Banting’s nobility didn’t stop there. When it came to the insulin patent, he refused to attach his name to it, considering it unethical to profit from a discovery that had the potential to save millions of lives. Instead, he sold the patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1, firmly stating, “Insulin belongs to the world, not to me.”

The discovery of insulin in 1922 not only brought hope to those comatose children but also illuminated a path to life for countless others battling diabetes. It stands as a testament to the power of selflessness, compassion, and the relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge for the betterment of humanity. The gift of life, embodied in the form of insulin, became a beacon of hope for diabetics around the world.


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I am Dr Sunil Kumar Follow me for more on health, habits and leadership.


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