Kids on Everest Help Research on Childhood Disease
On the Xtreme Everest expedition, 12 adventurous kids from the UK joined researchers and doctors from University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital to help refine methods for caring for critically ill children.
The team traveled from Lukla to Namche Bazaar in Nepal, trekking up to an altitude of nearly 11,500 feet.
The children were between the ages of 8 and 16, and were given a series of tests to measure blood flow, heart rate and other vital measurements before they left London. In this way, their normal body states could be compared to measures taken on the high-altitude expedition.
"The testing we are doing is a world first, because at high altitude we can isolate the effect of low oxygen on otherwise healthy children,” Mark Peters told Medical News Today. Peters works in the intensive care unit at GOSH and led the medical team on the expedition.
With the data, they aim to answer a few key questions, including whether muscles extract oxygen more efficiently at high altitude and whether muscles can adapt to a shift in oxygen and alter molecular pathways to increase efficiency.
"We know that tissue dies when it doesn't get enough oxygen, but we also know that too much oxygen can be damaging, so we hope our findings will help us to optimize the delivery of oxygen to patients in a critical condition," Peters said.