Diabetes UK Cymru has awarded the John Macleod medal to a man living with Type 1 diabetes for 70 years. Reverend Dr John Dann, 88, from Cardiff, was diagnosed when he was 17 just before going to university when he fell into a diabetic coma.
Dr Dann said: “I was weak, I was tired, I was thin, I didn’t know what was wrong with me until I collapsed. My parents were told I may not survive. But I pulled through. Diabetes management was completely different then. The needles were terrible, a lot thicker, and there were no insulin pens available. It was very hard.”
He was advised not to move far from home, so he didn’t take a place at Oxford University and opted for Cardiff University. After graduating with a chemistry degree, he became a teacher in England, and then at his old school, Cathays High in Cardiff. “I never stopped learning and now have five degrees including law, philosophy and education”, he added.
Dr Dann uses a FreeStyle Libre and four insulin injections a day. Asked about what his secret for a long life with diabetes is, he said: “My advice is, be careful, treat it with respect, treat it seriously, but not too seriously. That’s the way I have always lived. You have to be sensible, don’t ignore it, but don’t let it dominate you.” He also mentioned how important the Diabetes UK Cardiff Volunteer group, which he chaired, had been “an opportunity to meet people, discuss and help each other.”
The John Macleod medal was established in memory of the biochemist and doctor, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for the discovery of insulin, jointly with Frederick Banting.