November is Diabetes Awareness Month

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2017 (1918 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day.

As many as one in three Canadians lives with diabetes. If left untreated, diabetes causes health problems and death. However, effective treatment of diabetes was not developed until the early 20th century when Sir Frederick Banting, a Canadian medical scientist and physician, discovered insulin.

Banting was a remarkable Canadian and a fascinating character. Born on Nov. 14, 1891, he grew up on a farm in rural Ontario. 

Herald Canadian doctor Sir Frederick Banting discovered that insulin was an effective treatment for diabetes.

In 1916, Banting earned bachelor of medicine degree at the University of Toronto and joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps, serving in France where he was ultimately wounded. In 1919, he was awarded a Military Cross for heroism under fire.

When the war ended, Banting returned to home to practise medicine. Late one night, he had an incredible idea for research that could hold the key for the treatment of diabetes.

Banting, and his assistant Charles Best, worked diligently in their lab at the University of Toronto. In 1921, Banting announced that insulin was a treatment for diabetes. 

In 1922, a boy dying of diabetes at the Toronto General Hospital was injected with insulin and he rapidly recovered. 

Banting thus proved that insulin is effective as a treatment for people living with diabetes.

He then sold the rights for insulin to the University of Toronto for the sum of $1. He believed that insulin belonged to the world and not to him. Yet, as the main discoverer of insulin, Banting was showered with gratitude and awards, including the Nobel Prize in Medicine, an award he chose to share with Best. In 1934, he was knighted.

Sadly, Banting was killed in a plane crash on Feb. 21, 1941 in Newfoundland, while en route to England. He was not yet 50 years old.

In 1994, Banting was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.  

Darlene Litchie is a community correspondent for Transcona.

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