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Historical Event

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August 1, 1922

Short Description:




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Insulin is administered to a second type 1 diabetes child named Elizabeth Hughes Gossett who goes on to live a full life dying at the age of 74 from a heart attack.





Milestones in the history of diabetes mellitus: The main contributors


Important Text:

Similar is the story of Elizabeth Hughes Gossett (1907-1981). Daughter of the United States politician Charles Evans Hughes, Elizabeth was diagnosed with diabetes at age 11. Initially she was also treated by Allen and in August 1922 began the use of insulin. She survived, graduated from College, got married, had three children and died suddenly of a heart attack at 74 years old[23].

Elizabeth Hughes Gossett (August 19, 1907 – April 21, 1981), the daughter of U.S. politician Charles Evans Hughes, was the first American, and one of the first people in the world, treated with insulin for type 1 diabetes. She received over 42,000 insulin shots before she died in 1981.[1]

Elizabeth Hughes was born August 19, 1907, in the New York State Executive Mansion in Albany, New York, to Antoinette (Carter) and Charles Evans Hughes, who was Governor of New York at the time.

Elizabeth developed diabetes in 1918 at age 11. At the time, the life expectancy of a Type 1 diabetic without treatment was usually no more than a few months. Since it was unable to metabolize sugars, the diabetic body would instead begin to burn fats. The dependence on fat would eventually lead to acidosis, followed by coma and death. The only known treatment was a starvation diet, in which the caloric intake was reduced to a level that the patient could tolerate without showing sugar in the urine. If the diet was followed religiously, a diabetic could expect to live for a couple of years before eventually succumbing to an infectious disease in her malnourished state.[2]

In spring 1919, Elizabeth was brought to 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. Elizabeth was 4 feet 11.5 inches (1.511 m) and 75 pounds (34 kg) when she developed diabetes. Under diets that averaged 800 calories per day, her weight fell to 45 pounds (20 kg) by August 1922.[2]

From summer 1921 to spring 1922, a team at the University of Toronto succeeded in isolating the hormone insulin, which type 1 diabetics are unable to produce on their own. Elizabeth's mother contacted Canadian doctor Frederick Banting, who agreed to take her as a private patient. Elizabeth arrived in Toronto with her mother on August 15, 1922, and began receiving insulin from Dr. Banting. She recovered rapidly, and she was placed on a 2200–2400 calorie weight-gain diet within two weeks. She returned home to Washington, D.C., on Thanksgiving Day 1922.[2][3]

Elizabeth Gossett died of a heart attack on April 21, 1981, at the age of 73.[4] By the time of her death, she had received approximately 42,000 insulin injections over 58 years. Although her name had been prominently mentioned in the newspaper coverage of insulin in 1922, she later hid her diabetes from her friends and associates. She destroyed most of the material that documented her treatments, and even removed references to diabetes in her father's papers.[6]

Topics: (click image to open)

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
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