The Long Life of One of Banting’s First Patients

Theodore (Teddy) Ryder was born in New Jersey in 1916. At age four he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Ryder was put on the Allen diet to treat his diabetes, which consisted of a starvation diet of about 500-600 calories a day. Under this treatment, most individuals with diabetes lived six to twelve months. Ryder later recalled that at five-years-old he was “twenty-six or seven pounds” and could only walk up three or four steps before he needed help. When his family got word of Banting’s insulin tests, Ryder’s uncle, Dr. Morton Ryder, personally reached out to Banting to ask to include Ryder in the trials. Banting initially told Dr. Ryder that he did not have enough insulin to treat Teddy along with his seven other patients and to bring him in September to be treated. Dr. Ryder wrote a letter to Banting saying that he did not believe Teddy would survive until September as he was so weak he “did not have the energy to play by himself”. Banting agreed to treat Teddy and on July 10th, 1922 he was one of the first people to receive insulin to treat his diabetes. Within two weeks of starting the treatment, Ryder began to gain weight. In September of that year, his family threw Teddy his sixth birthday party and Banting attended. Teddy returned home in October 1922 and continued his treatment.

Teddy Ryder.jpg
Teddy Ryder before (left) and after (right) he started his insulin treatment.

Ryder stayed in contact with Banting through letters until Banting’s death in 1941. In Ryder’s first letter to Banting he wrote: “Dear Dr. Banting, I wish you could come see me. I am a fat boy now and I feel fine. I can climb a tree. […] Lots of love from Teddy Ryder”.

teddy ryder letter.png
A letter written from Teddy Ryder to Banting.

Ryder went on to become a librarian in Hartford, Connecticut. He had no serious complications from diabetes the rest of his life. In 1990, he attended an unveiling of an exhibit at the University of Toronto honouring the discovery of insulin. He revealed his own before and after insulin treatment pictures in the exhibit as he stood in front of the crowd as a healthy man. Ryder died of heart failure at the age of 76 in 1993. At the time, he was the person treated the longest by insulin in the world.

Teddy Ryder grown up.jpg
Teddy Ryder in his 70s after living a long, successful life.

This post was written by Rachel Delle Palme, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House NHSC. Rachel is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.

2 thoughts on “The Long Life of One of Banting’s First Patients

  1. This is a remarkable story! I wish the Banting House could research and publish more stories similar to this. I’ve only been living with T1D for 47+ years and I hope to visit the Banting House and honor Dr. Banting soon.

    1. We look forward to your visit! We will be publishing stories, similar to these, as we gear up for the 100th anniversary celebrations starting in 2020.

Let us know what you think - we'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s