Canadians have created a truly outstanding and widely known contribution to the medical industry with various technologies that many rely on, which have and continue to save countless lives. These are a couple of examples out of the many contributions Canadians have made:
One of the most widely known Canadian breakthrough would be the discovery of Insulin. In 1920, Frederick Banting had an idea how to isolate the substance from the pancreas in dogs. Working in a lab at the University of Toronto, he and Charles Best developed the first pancreatic extract. Enlisting the help of J.J.R. MacLeod and J.B. Collip, on a fellowship from the University of Alberta, the team was able to produce and purify insulin for testing on patients in 1922. Prior to insulin, a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence for children. Today insulin saves and prolongs millions of lives around the world.
A while ago heart surgeons were unable to open the heart and correct problems within, as they were unable to safely stop the blood flow to see what they were doing. That is until a Canadian surgeon and hypothermia researcher Dr. Wilfred Bigelow discovered in the early 1940s that lowering temperature of an arm or leg also reduced its oxygen requirements. Bigelow believed the hypothermia might help doctors operating on newborns with heart defects. In 1950, he and Toronto General Hospital colleague Dr. John Callaghan presented their work at a medical convention. In 1952, hypothermia was allowed the first open-heart operation on a human.
The Cobalt Bomb
Although ionizing radiation from radium and X-rays had been used for decades in cancer treatment, it was either too weak to penetrate far enough to treat deep tumours, or too expensive. In 1947, the National Research Experimental Reactor at Chalk River, Ont., began producing radioactive cobalt-60 isotopes about 100 times more radioactive than radium and far cheaper to produce. Dr. Harold Johns of the University of Saskatchewan requested some for a prototype therapy unit that would make deep tissue radiation therapy possible and relatively affordable. This new equipment was named the Cobalt Bomb, as it was described as an “atomic weapon in the fight against cancer”. For the first time, deep tumours such as those in the bladder, cervix and lungs could be effectively treated with radiation. The cure rate for cervical cancer, for example, increased to 75 per cent from 25 per cent after development of the Cobalt Bomb.
It is amazing to see the great contributions Canadians have made to the world, most particularity in the medical field, and in helping to understand our internal body system. yet this is only the beginning, Canadians will continue to astonish the world with their great abilities.
It's truly great to be Canadian ! J