During the 20th century, Frederick Banting’s different creations had a lasting legacy on Canada and the world. He impacted the lives of many Canadians, past and present. He made very significant inventions that affected the quality of life for Canadians and people around the world. Frederick Banting deserves the title as one of the greatest Canadians because he discovered the pancreatic hormone called insulin which ‘paved the way for future diabetic research in Canada (DocShare).’ This helped him achieve the Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1923. This discovery made a major influence on Canada and the rest of the world because it provided a treatment for all the patients with diabetes. Frederick Banting was the creator of the first G-suit used by pilots and astronauts. ‘The invention of G-suit saved many pilots lives and allowed more complex flight man-oeuvres’-(DocShare). Banting was also a war hero. He was enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Service where he was quickly promoted to the rank of captain. In early 1900s, Frederick Banting was one of the greatest Canadians who had a large impact on Canadian society. He had motivated many lives with his numerous contributions to humanity. Frederick Banting discovered insulin, created an understanding for the creation of the G-Suit, was awarded a Nobel Prize, played an important role in the war and thus deserves the title as one of the greatest Canadian.
“No single event in the history of medicine had changed the lives of so many people, so suddenly”– Stephen Hume, Biographer of Banting.This quote explains the power of insulin and how it positively affected the lives of many diabetic patients. Before the discovery of insulin, diabetes was a dreaded disease that most certainly resulted in shorter lives, loss of limbs (amputations) and even blindness. During that time, doctors knew that once a person has diabetes, sugar intake should be kept as low as possible. The most effective treatment was to put patients on starvation diet so that they could live for extra few years. On the contrary, they died of starvation. Frederick Banting came as a hero to save the people with diabetes. He had a nagging interest and numerous ideas concerning this deadly disease called diabetes. Banting’s idea was to isolate insulin from the pancreas without harming it. In order to do so, he tied up the pancreatic ducts to stop the flow of nourishment (digestive juices) to the pancreas. This caused the pancreas to lose its ability to secrete digestive juices and only secrete insulin without the pancreas being harmed. In 1921, Banting took his idea to Professor John Macleod at the University of Toronto, who was a leading figure in the study of diabetes. Macleod gave Banting a laboratory, some equipment and ten dogs to start his experiments. Banting also got an assistant, a medical student by the name of Charles Best. Banting and Best began their experiments by removing the pancreas from a dog. The results showed that the dog developed diabetes. Experimenting on another dog, they surgically ligated the pancreas so that the pancreas degenerated, but insulin was isolated. This isolated insulin was injected into the diabetic dog and the results were outstanding! The diabetic dog was healthier and stronger. The test was successful and this was the beginning of the ground-breaking discovery. In January 1922 in Toronto, a 14-year-old boy, Leonard Thompson, was chosen as the first person with diabetes to receive insulin. The test was a remarkable success. The broadcast of the successful creation made thousands of people come to Toronto to receive the treatment. This awarded Frederick Banting and John Macleod the Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1923. Although insulin does not cure diabetes, it was a major medical discovery. It was described as a “miracle drug” that allowed diabetic people to live a normal life.
After the discovery of insulin, Banting devoted his time to construct the first ever G-suit. ‘The G-suit is a close-fitted garment, covering the legs and abdomen that is worn by the crew of high-speed air crafts and can be pressurized to prevent blackout/unconsciousness during certain flight manoeuvres’-(TheFreeDictionary). The problem was that the planes would crash after reaching a certain vertical altitude. But then again, Banting discovered that the planes were not crashing, the pilots were “blacking out.” This problem occurred over and over again because pilots had difficulties handling the high speed man oeuvres and rapid increasing altitude. In aviation, pilots faced many problems and one of them was G-forces. ‘G-force is gravitational acceleration a body experiences’-(Zuckerman). While taking off, pilots encounter positive G-force. This force pushes the blood from the upper body to the lower body, away from the brain. The human heart is not strong enough to pump blood back up because of the high forces holding it down. There is not enough oxygen in the brain which results in poor vision and then complete blackout. Pilots were also prone to negative G-forces. While landing, the negative G-forces forced blood toward the brain which resulted in “red-out.” Here the blood was forced into the eyes. To battle these forces, the G-suit came into existence. Frederick Banting was the first person to recognize the G-force complication. In 1941, Wilbur Rounding Franks was the first person to design and test the first G-suit. The first G-suit was liquid based. When the forces acted upon the liquid, the mass of the liquid increased, compressing the legs. This prevented excess blood from entering the leg, hence preventing the blood from draining out from the upper body. The creation of the G-suit saved many pilots lives and allowed more complex flight manoeuvres.
When the war between Germany and Britain/France began in 1914, Banting attempted to enrol in the army as a medical doctor. His application was denied because of his poor eyesight. Afterwards, Banting’s application was accepted when his medical studies were coming to an end. Banting was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant when he was sailing to ‘Britain to his first job in Granville Canadian Special Hospital in Ramsgate, England’-(Canadian Diabetes Association). Then Banting held the position of captain while being transferred to France. In France, Banting served with determination and heart which earned him the Military Cross for his bravery. His contribution to the war increased Canada’s reputation in a positive way. The quote below was said by an unknown military officer, describing what Banting did:
“Capt. Frederick Grant Banting, 13th Fld. Amb., C.A.M.C. near Hayne court on Sept. 28th, 1918, when the medical officer of 46th Canadian Battalion was wounded, he immediately proceeded forward through intense shell fire to reach the battalion. Several of his men were wounded and he, neglecting his own safety, stopped to attend to them. While doing this, he was wounded [severed interosseous artery in his right arm] himself and was sent out notwithstanding his plea to be left at the front. His energy and pluck were of a very high order. Some reports suggest Banting continued to dress the wounds of others, despite his own wound, for nearly seventeen hours.”
-Canadian Diabetes Association
In the 1900s, Frederick Banting had a large impact on the Canadian society. He had influenced and improved many lives with his numerous contributions to Canada and the world. Frederick Banting was one of the 20th century most celebrated medical hero. His discovery of insulin was one of the most important medical breakthroughs which saved lives of millions of people with diabetes. Additionally, his creation of the G-suit prevented many pilots from blacking out during flight. His contribution in WWI as a medical officer showed his bravery and support. Frederick Banting shaped our nation by being a Canadian Scientist, Doctor and Soldier who forever influenced Canada’s community.