I wrote this post 2 years ago to commemorate an important date in diabetes history: the administration of the first insulin injection. Today, it’s 97 years since Leonard Thompson was given this life saving drug; the drug that keeps me and millions of others around the world alive each day.

And yet, 97 years later, insulin is not accessible to everyone who needs it and people continue to die because they cannot afford the same drug that those of us in Australia can easily and affordable find at any local pharmacy.

So today, as I remember Leonard and the significance of this date and reshare this (slightly edited) post, I’ll be making a donation to Life for a Child. Because no one – no one – should die because they cannot access a drug that has been around for 97 years.


On 11 January in 1922, a 14-year-old boy in Toronto was given the first insulin injection to treat diabetes. His name was Leonard Thompson, and he lived for another 13 years, before dying of pneumonia when he was 27 years old.

Before he was given insulin for the first time, Leonard was on the only treatment available at the time for those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He was on a starvation diet, and he was close to death, drifting in and out of a coma because of diabetes-related ketoacidosis.

There are dates each year that trigger reminder lessons in the discovery of insulin. On those days, I say a silent thank you to Banting and Best for their work, grateful to them for my life and I peek into my refrigerator at the vials of insulin within easy reach for when they are needed.

But I also feel a great sense of sadness and frustration, because today, ninety-seven years after Leonard Thompson was given his first insulin injection, this miracle drug is still inaccessible to so many people with diabetes. And people are dying, suffering in the way that Leonard was before he was given the drug for the first time.

Yes, I said ‘suffering’. And I don’t use that word. I don’t suffer from diabetes – I live with it. But make no mistake, someone who cannot access insulin and is dying from diabetic ketoacidosis is suffering. They are in pain; their body is in distress. They are dying.

The playing field is so un-level and that is simply not fair. So if you are able to – if you are one of the fortunate ones with insulin in your fridge, please do consider donating to those who are not.

Around Valentine’s Day each year, Spare a Rose suggests sending 11 instead of 12 roses. The AUD$6 saved provides insulin for a month to child with diabetes through the IDF’s Life for a Child program.

Insulin for Life Global needs donations to fund transport costs for delivering insulin to those most in need. AUD$12.50 will cover the cost of sending two weeks’ worth of insulin.

(Click image for source)