Inspirational first insulin patients

I came across this article by accident and I was a little overwhelmed. The suffering they went through as well and the miraculous recoveries from those early days when insulin was first discovered.
The thing that jumped out at me was how long they lived on average. Not the 20 year post diagnosis that I was told when I was diagnosed. Most of them lived to old age even into their 70s which is close to normal life span for that time.
The first patient died young but not directly from diabetes but from pneumonia. they might have purposely highlighted the best cases, but it’s hard to tell.

Have a read, it’s pretty eye opening. Early Patients - Defining Moments Canada


Thanks, great article.

@Timothy What a wonderful article to have found Thanks!

My uncle was born in 1919 in New York and got Type 1 before the age of 18 and died at 37. Unfortunately we don’t know a lot of the particulars. I didn’t get type 1 until after my Dad had died or I probably would have asked. We do know he was sickly starting as a teen and the rest of his life.


The progression of tools to treat T1D has been fabulous. I have posted here about using TesTape to see if blood glucose levels had been high enough to spill into urine. When BG meters became available, my insurance would only pay for 3 tests per day. My Endo went through the paperwork to justify 5 tests per day.

Now, with CGM, we can have a test every 5 minutes, the data is stored and can be reported and analyzed.

I developed T1D some 58 years ago. I live a full life. Now age 79 and retired, I keep myself busy. My wife and I train and compete with our dogs in shows, herding and obedience. We are not planning to slow down any time soon.

None of this would be possible for me without insulin, and without modern methods to help test and manage T1D.


After I was diagnosed a few years ago, one of several books I read on diabetes and management was “The Discovery of Insulin” by Michael Bliss. Covers a lot of the ground in the article. Really helps put things in perspective. Thanks for sharing!


I’m overwhelmed also - astonishing stories. I’m struck by the sadness and desperation these young people and their families must have been feeling prior to treatment and of course all of those who were not lucky enough to enjoy this miracle.
I might not feel it sometimes, but i am so incredibly fortunate to be living right now.


Testape was a relatively new discovery. When I was first diagnosed, the only testing was with tablets that had to be mixed with urine and water! And boiling heavy duty needles and syringes was certainly no fun either.


Thank you for sharing! This was fascinating.

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Actually the first patients were dogs !!

“A breakthrough came at the University of Toronto in the summer of 1921, when Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolated insulin from canine test subjects, produced diabetic symptoms in the animals, and then began a program of insulin injections that returned the dogs to normalcy. Their discovery was announced to the world on November 14, 1921.”