Michelle's Reviews > The Fight to Survive: A Young Girl, Diabetes, and the Discovery of Insulin

The Fight to Survive by Caroline Cox
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Nov 24, 09

bookshelves: biography, science-issues
Read in November, 2009

This very well-written little book chronicles the life of Elizabeth Hughes, a teenage diabetic in the early 1920's, and the concurrent struggle to develop a product to help diabetics which culminated in the development of insulin for use by diabetics. This was a fascinating story, especially intertwined as it was with the life story of a real young girl sentenced to death by a horrible disease and the reprieve she got through the efforts of researchers who saved her life, along with those of many thousands of diabetics since. I knew that in the pre-insulin days, a diagnosis of diabetes was a death sentence, but had not realized how truly awful the disease was. Elizabeth had been able to prolong her life for three years by following the Allen diet--which enabled her to eat only about 700-800 calories a DAY, with periodic days of only half that. The author did not spend a lot of time on the issue of animals in research, but it is still plainly obvious by the story that had animals not been used in research on diabetes, it would have been a very, very long time before there was any effective treatment at all for diabetics.
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