Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg truly take us "through the discovery of Insulin and the making of a medical miracle" in their book Breakthrough. The authors clearly take you on the journey of what a miracle the discovery of insulin truly was.
The story is framed around the story of Elizabeth Hughes, the daughter of Charles Evan Hughes, a former presidential candidate and eventual secretary of state. Elizabeth's diabetic condition was kept a secret, a common Victorian position. A diagnosis of diabetes was equivalent to a death sentence as there was really no treatment or cure. Juvenile diabetes was a truly devastating disease.
Elizabeth received treatment from Frederick Allen who had developed a revolutionary treatment that could only extend life. His treatment consisted of extreme control and restriction of a patient's diet which would eventually lead to starvation and death. Dr. Allen's hope was that he could extend life long enough that a cure could be found. The process was tortuous for the patient and family.
During Elizabeth's treatment, a Dr. Banting in Canada awakes from a dream after a troubling, depressive night. He had been reading an article on how to potentially isolate the unknown factor that controls blood sugar. He came up with an idea that grabbed hold of his entire being and caused him to sacrifice nearly everything in his life to prove it. Other individuals enter into the story and with much effort, insulin is developed and lives saved.
I'm glad to have read this book. The discovery of Insulin was truly a miracle.
Book rating: 4 stars
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