Norman Bethune vs. Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best - Macleans.ca

Norman Bethune vs. Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best

At least one Canadian medical hero will fall by the wayside

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Norman Bethune

Why he’s famous: Bethune revolutionized battlefield medicine.

Why he deserves to win: During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Bethune invented a mobile blood transfusion service which could collect blood from donors and deliver it wherever it was needed. His “mobile blood bank” is considered the greatest medical innovation from the war. Later, Bethune would take his battlefield medicine expertise to China, where he became the Red Army’s Medical Chief and taught his techniques to new doctors and nurses. Think of Bethune as the Canadian Florence Nightingale.

Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best

Why they’re famous: Along with Best, a medical student he’d hired, Banting isolated insulin as the hormone which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels.

Why they deserve to win: After reading a paper that suggested diabetes may be caused by a lack of a hormone secreted by islets in the back of the pancreas, he devised a way to isolate the islets by tying off most of the pancreas with ligatures. In 1921, Frederick Banting hired Charles Best and the two removed a dog’s pancreas, which caused blood sugar levels to rise (mimicking diabetics) before injecting the islets back into the dog. The animal lived for several more months, proving they had isolated the blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin. By 1922, the pair were bringing comatose diabetics in Toronto back to life. Diabetics worldwide have lived more normal lives ever since.

Mike Lazaridis vs. Peter Robertson

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