Today is World Diabetes Day and around the world, various awareness campaigns will culminate on today to acknowledge those who live with diabetes and for those who are do not, to make them more aware & understanding of what it is like to live with diabetes.

But for me, I like to give thanks and remembrance to those who have paved the way for us to have a World Diabetes Day in the first place.

Frederick Banting

Sir Frederick Banting was a Canadian medical scientist, doctor, painter and Nobel laureate noted as the first person that used insulin on humans. Previous to this discovery, people with Type 1 Diabetes died from the condition, as their was no treatment.

In 1923 Banting and John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Banting shared the award money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best. As of September 2011, Banting, who received the Nobel Prize at age 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology/Medicine. The Canadian government gave him a lifetime annuity to work on his research. In 1934 he was knighted by King George V. In 2004, Frederick Banting was voted fourth place on The Greatest Canadian.

Frederick Banting was born on November 14, 1891, in a farm house near Alliston, Ontario, hence why World Diabetes Day is celebrated on this day every year.


Leonard Thompson

Leonard Thompson (1908–1935) is the first person to have received injection of insulin as a treatment for Type 1 diabetes.

Thompson received his first injection in Toronto, Ontario, on January 11, 1922, at 14 years of age. The first injection had an apparent impurity which was the likely cause for the allergic reaction he displayed. After a refined process was developed by James Collip to improve the canine pancreas extract, the second dosage was successfully delivered to the young patient twelve days after the first.

Thompson showed signs of improved health and went on to live 13 more years taking doses of insulin, eventually dying of pneumonia at age 27.

Until insulin was made clinically available, a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes was an invariable death sentence, more or less quickly (usually within months, and frequently within weeks or days).



Elizabeth Hughes Gossett

Elizabeth Hughes Gossett (August 19, 1907 – April 21, 1981) the daughter of U.S. politician Charles Evans Hughes, was one of the first patients treated with insulin. She received over 42,000 insulin shots before she died in 1981.

Elizabeth developed Type 1 diabetes in 1919 at age 11. She was treated initially by Dr. Frederick M. Allen at his special clinic, the Physiatric Institute in Morristown, New Jersey. Dr. Allen put Elizabeth on a strict diet and continued to monitor her condition over the next three years while she lived at home with a private nurse. The diet was typically as low as 400 calories per day, and was restricted to a point below which sugar was detected in the urine. It caused a gradual weight loss from 75 pounds to a mere 45 pounds from 1919 to 1922 when insulin became available.

By the winter of 1921/22 her health was deteriorating seriously; she was 14 years old and weighed 52 pounds. In 1922 her mother contacted Canadian doctor Frederick Banting in Toronto. Elizabeth came to Toronto with her mother in August 1922 and began receiving insulin from Dr. Banting.

Elizabeth’s health improved with insulin treatment. She returned to school in 1923 and graduated from Barnard College in 1929.

In 1930 she married William T. Gossett, a lawyer who later served as the president of the American Bar Association (1968-9) as well as vice president and general counsel of the Ford Motor Company. They lived in Bloomfield, Michigan and had two daughters and a son.

Elizabeth Gossett was active in civic affairs in the Detroit area. She was a member of the board of trustees of Barnard College, one of the founding trustees of Oakland University, Rochester, a member of the Detroit Urban League, as well as a volunteer at the Merrill-Palmer Institute and at Michigan State University. She was best known as the founder of the Supreme Court Historical Society in 1972 and served as its president until 1979.

Elizabeth Gossett died on April 21, 1981 at the age of seventy-three.

Few of her friends or associates knew of her diabetic condition, as she systematically destroyed most of the material documenting her treatments and had expunged all references to diabetes from her father’s papers. At the time of her death, she had received 42,000 insulin injections over 58 years.


Diabetes Insight is Ireland’s only private independent advisory service and education centre dedicated and specializing solely in Diabetes Self Management Education (DSME). Its aim is to make a difference in the lives of those living daily with diabetes by providing quality education, advice, support and resources in a clear, simple, practical easy to understand manner without fear of judgement or blame. We respect and see each person with diabetes as an individual, with individual needs, so all our services are tailored to your specific needs. 

All our services are designed and facilitated by Helena Farrell RGN, MSc Diabetes who has over 15 years experience working and studying in diabetes management. These services are unique, from cookery courses to one day courses and are not to be found in any other health service or provider within the Republic of Ireland. 

Contact us today to see how we can help you and make a difference to you living with diabetes by ringing Helena on (086) 1739287 &/or email With services starting from as little as 20 euros, there is something to cater for every budget and need.