Theodore Ryder

September 14, 2016

This blog is dedicated to the life and legacy of Theodore Ryder. 


At one time, type one diabetes was terminal. Anyone and everyone who developed symptoms were sanctioned to a strict diet plan and even then, given 1-2 years. For centuries no one could fully understand 'why' or 'how' this happens, instead 'accept' the inevitable- death. The majority of its casualties were children reaching no higher than secondary education. Soon, their life would become a luxury long-forgotten and what remains but an innocent child left to ransom in pain. 


Among the few who were the first to be treated with Dr Frederick Banting and Charles Best's 'wonder insulin' were Theodore "Teddy" Ryder.


Theodore was born on 14th September 1916 in Keyport, New Jersey. At the age of 5, he quickly developed symptoms of type one diabetes, including constant thirst, excessive urine output and a very pronounced weight loss. At the time, there was no treatment, other than chronic malnutrition which only prolonged the disease for 1-2 years, at best.



During Ryder's struggle, Dr Frederick Banting and Charles Best were extracting and purifying insulin from canine pancreases in the University of Toronto. Once the family heard of this, Ryder's Uncle requested personal interviews with Dr Banting to inquire about treatment for his nephew. Sadly, he was denied due to a lack of insulin. However, Dr Banting reviewed his initial response and began treatment of Theodore Ryder on 10th July 1922- now, only weighing 12.5 kg.


In a short few months, Ryder returned to his mother, not only healthy but with an extra 72 years of life. Both, Ryder and Banting went on to exchange letters;


"Dear Dr. Banting, I wish you could come to see me. I am a fat boy. I can climb a tree. Margaret would like to see you. Lots of love from Teddy Ryder "


- Theodore "Teddy" Ryder


"I will always be interested in your further life, and you will forgive me, with a little pride, for I will always remember the difficult times we had with insulin in the first days. The outstanding thing that I remember was your strength and bravery in keeping your diet and the courageous way you have endured the burden of injections. I am sure that you will have success in life if you meet the rejection of life with the same mind."


- Dr Frederick Banting



Ryder went on to work as a librarian in Hartford, Connecticut and soon became a 'living legend' of the miraculous work conducted in a little laboratory in 1922. Close to his death, he became the world's longest insulin-user without any serious life complications.


He died on 8th March 1993- aged 77.



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