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Louise Mirrer, president of the New-York Historical Society, wrote a wonderful blog on the Huffington Post on November 5. She notes that the “experience of children can teach us volumes about our history.” One such child is Elizabeth Hughes, who, after being diagnosed with diabetes, became one of the first recipients of the newly-discovered insulin. Her story, chronicled in BREAKTHROUGH, is inspiring and eye-opening.
Louise Mirrer writes:
“The story of young Elizabeth Evans Hughes led us to think differently, as an institution organized around history, about the fight for life waged by medical patients almost a century ago and about the roles of science…”
It’s been a steamy summer so far, with record-high temperatures hitting cities around the world. The sweltering summer heat can send even sun worshipers running for the cool relief of an air-conditioned room. But that wasn’t always an option.
Almost ninety years ago, in 1921, Toronto experienced one of the hottest summers on record. It was in this oppressive heat that Frederick Banting and Charles Best would begin their research for a new diabetes treatment at a University of Toronto lab. The conditions were far from ideal. The operating table was made of wood, which meant it was difficult to keep sterile, the floor couldn’t be effectively scrubbed because water would leak through to the ceiling below, glassware was smeared, and linens were tattered and stained. The heat exacerbated the already difficult objectives at hand.
James S. Hirsch On BREAKTHROUGH: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle
Award-winning journalist and author James S. Hirsch, who also has Type 1 diabetes, wrote about Breakthrough in the June edition of DiaTribe, a subscription-based newsletter about diabetes. Here’s what he said:
“‘Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle,’ by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg, captures the complex human drama of the teenage girl who was saved by insulin.”
“[Elizabeth's] story – a remarkable brew of courage, triumph, secrecy, and shame – resonates to this day, and new details of her life emerge in a book that will be published later this year.”