It’s 1920. The twelve-year-old daughter of the Governor of New York develops an uncontrollable thirst. The diagnosis is diabetes. There is no cure; the only “treatment” is a starvation diet that will simply delay her death.
But one night, in the middle of a thunderstorm, a small-town Canadian doctor wakes with the conviction he can solve the riddle of how to treat diabetes. His name is Fred Banting.
Fred has survived the Great War; he carries its wounds: mental and physical; but he’s also a determined son-of-a-bitch. Against the wishes of his fiancé he abandons his struggling medical practice and takes up a quest to find the elusive, magical elixir that will reverse the killer condition.
The University of Toronto is deserted for the summer. In primitive conditions and baking heat, Fred struggles with his lack of research experience and clashes with the three other scientists who can see a glimmer of hope in the project.
The researchers battle with the science, and personal dislike spills over into fierce competition, acrimony, and even violence, while the young patients around them suffer and die.
When the breakthrough comes, the stories of the patients saved by the newly isolated insulin are “unspeakably wonderful.” But victory comes at huge personal cost to the researchers.
Unspeakably Wonderful tells the astonishing and moving human story behind one of the greatest medical discoveries of the 20th century.