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Bionic: Insulin – July 27, Then and Now

It came to Banting in a dream one night- the Nobel-prize winning idea of how to treat diabetes with insulin. With the help of Charles Best, he finally isolated the compound that has changed the lives of millions of diabetics ever since.

On July 27, 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolated insulin for the first time.  At that time, Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1 Diabetes) was a universally fatal diagnosis with a mortality rate higher than any malignant disease ever known to man. Prior to the discovery of insulin, the most anyone with this diagnosis could hope for was a slow, miserable death by starvation within one year of diagnosis.

It was a grim picture, to say the least.

In January 1922, it would be a child to receive the first injection of insulin. No one knew for sure what to expect, and there was no way to know the correct dosage. I can’t imagine the crossroads he and his parents must have faced:

Give this injection, which has never before been administered to a human, and death could be immediate.


Don’t give it, and face certain death soon thereafter. 

How horrible it must have been to stand on that corner of fate.

Leonard Thompson survived the injection (though did experience an allergic reaction) and went on to live another 13 years before succumbing to pneumonia, most likely the result of a diabetes complication, at the age of 27.

At some point in history, a child with Type 1 Diabetes had to use a glucometer, wear an insulin pump, and try new insulin compounds. A child has been injected with new needles, new lancets, and has been forced to follow evolving dietary protocols.

Children have, indeed, left their little footprints on the timeline of diabetes history.

I wonder if Frederick Banting could have fathomed the hormone he isolated on July 27, 1921 would be part of a closed loop system being trialed on children 93 years later.

Sugar went BIONIC today. At this point, I don’t have any pictures or video of her countdown to share…but I do know that she is in the most capable hands possible.

For the next five days her blood sugars will be completely controlled by the Bionic Pancreas.

July 27, 2014.

Mark that date in history.

This post is part of a series documenting Sugar’s experience in the 2014 Bionic Pancreas Summer Camp Study.
Category: bionic pancreas
  • Misty says:

    Woot Woot! Go Bionic Sugar! Eeeek!

    July 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm
  • Melissa says:

    I have been reading this blog over and over since it was posted. It gives me such hope for my son. After a long night of chasing high blood sugars or treating lows its what I need to get me through the day. Thank you all for sharing this blog. It means so much more to me than I can express. God bless.

    September 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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