Gather round, children. It’s story time. Today, being World diabetes day moves me to share the unfortunate ending of Fredrick Banting and Charles Best, the scientists who discovered insulin to treat diabetes. The discovery of insulin was sparked by an image that was burned into Fredrick Bantings mind, as he watched his childhood friend wither away from diabetes and die. His friend with Type 1 diabetes drove the discovery of insulin. In the early 1900s, when a person was diagnosed with diabetes, it was controlled with a starvation diet but a person usually died with a year of diagnosis. Ten dogs later, these gentlemen changed the lives of millions of people. The details between 1921 and today are colorful. Banting died at the age of 49 in a plane crash for a World War II “secret mission”. To this day, he remains to be the youngest Nobel Prize winner for Physiology and Medicine. Best was forced to retire from medicine in 1965 due to a depressive illness. At the age of 79, he passed on March 31, 1978. What a story! The discovery of insulin saved my life and the lives of millions of people. In 1978, Genentech synthesized the first batch of human insulin with bacteria. In 1982, human insulin was sold in the US by Eli Lilly. The story behind why insulin was discovered shows me that our experiences in life can fuel our drive to do good. How the medical heroes, Fredrick Banting and Charles Best, died is a story in itself.
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