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Texas Woman Receives Joslin 75-Year Diabetes Medal

Barbara Kimbrough, Joslin 75-year medalist

Monday, July 12, 2010

Barbara Kimbrough, of Haskell, Texas, has received the Joslin 75-Year Medal, recognizing her many decades of living successfully with diabetes. Ms. Kimbrough, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, is only the 35th person in the world to receive the award, which she accepted in a ceremony here late last month.

“Diabetes was pretty rare when I was diagnosed,” she noted. “Some doctors didn’t know too much about diabetes and there wasn’t anybody else with it in my school. But I didn’t think of it as being something really bad; just different.”

One of Barbara's favorite hobbies was swimming, and she said that having diabetes did not get in the way at all. “I just went along with everybody else,” she elaborated.

“Taking insulin is just something I do each day, like brushing my teeth,” she added.

Ms. Kimbrough visited Joslin several times previously, the first time a few years after she was diagnosed in 1932. Another visit came when she was around the age of 16. She was cared for directly by Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, the founder of the Joslin Diabetes Center.

“I remember him teaching me to inject the insulin with an orange,” she said. “The orange is similar to skin, and that is how I first learned to do it.”

Married in 1941, she gave birth to two healthy children, despite the serious challenges entailed for women with diabetes at the time. She met with Dr. Priscilla White of Joslin, a groundbreaker in improving pregnancy care for women with diabetes. Dr. White aided in her care and strongly encouraged her to conceive.

Ms. Kimbrough is participating in Joslin’s 50-Year Medalist Study, which studies individuals who have lived with diabetes for more than 50 years. The research includes genetic analyses to understand the surprising lack of diabetes complications displayed by many Medalists.

“I think the Medalist study is wonderful,” she said. “There is something about maybe being able to help somebody that is uplifting to me.”

Barbara Kimbrough accepts the 75-year Joslin Medal

Page last updated: June 19, 2019