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Groundbreaking Inventions of the 20th Century

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"Groundbreaking Inventions of the 20th Century"
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Groundbreaking Inventions of the 20th Century

There are so many inventions from the 20th century, it would be hard to narrow down the greatest, considering more products were patented from 1900-1999 than any of the previous centuries. Patented products include radio receivers, air conditioners, color photography, oral contraceptives, the Barbie doll, instant coffee, stainless steel, tommy guns, computers, silly putty, microwave ovens, the bra, the first robot, zippers, frozen food, penicillin, jet engines, aerosol cans, radar, and helicopters. Even though these are fantastic products, I consider the most groundbreaking invention of the 20th century to be insulin.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas but if enough of this hormone is not produced, a person develops diabetes. If the person develops Type II diabetes, they may have minor symptoms such as thirst or frequent urination and it is usually only discovered by a doctor during a routine examination. If the person has Type I diabetes, the person can add irritation, abdominal cramps, and fatigue to the symptoms. A person with Type I requires daily insulin injections. Diabetes is the leading cause of death by disease through cardiac and renal failure. Diabetes has been discovered in ancient Egyptians, Hindus, and Greeks.

Sir Frederick Grant Banting was a medical doctor who was asked one day to give a lecture to students on the pancreas. He became so fascinated with the function and malfunction of the pancreas that he read everything he could about the organ while orchestrating several experiments. When Banting discovered that in the late 1800's two researchers created diabetes in dogs by removing their pancreas, this led him to make an extract from some of the islet tissues of the pancreas which resulted in insulin. With the aid of the Lilly Company in stabilizing the extract as well as packaging and distributing the product, Banting named his drug Isletin but later changed it to Insulin.

I am very familiar with the leading cause of death by disease because my mother and brother died from complications of diabetes. Both were diagnosed with Type I in their forties and were prescribed Insulin. Even though my mother lived thirty years after her diagnosis, she died from heart failure. My brother lived twenty years beyond his diagnosis, but developed neuropathy, a disease associated with diabetes that attacks nerves, muscles and every organ in the body except the eyes. Two years after diagnosed with neuropathy, he was dead. One other person in my family has Type I diabetes. My oldest sister. She was diagnosed in her late twenties and has lived more than thirty years with the disease. She has heart problems, poor eyesight and neuropathy, but continues to hold a job and socialize with her family and friends. Maybe scientist have improved Insulin since Banting first filed for a patent in 1922. I know I am grateful for his knowledge and persistence in discovering a health aid to diabetes. Insulin is not a cure, but it is a blessing.

More about this author: Rita Chandler

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