Maybe you’ve heard our amazing news about our amazing Chris Bombardier! The FIRST person with hemophilia to summit Mt. Everest, Mt. Vinson… and well, all Seven Summits!
Chris sits on the board of Save One Life, the nonprofit that I founded, and he shares my love of mountains and my passion for helping people with hemophilia suffering without treatment in developing countries. Together, we are trying to improve their lives.
Our deepest thanks go to Chris, and also to Octapharma, because this manufacturer of human protein products funded these last two mountain climbs, which are expensive and out of reach of most people. Octapharma helped make this dream come true. It was a true team effort! I promised them I’d post this press release. Please read and show your appreciation to them as well!
Octapharma Support Enables Bombardier to Climb Mount Vinson, Becoming First Hemophiliac to Ascend the Seven Summits
Octapharma Partnership with Mountain Climber will Culminate with
Release of Documentary Bombardier Blood Later This Year
HOBOKEN, N.J. (January 25, 2018) – Mountain climber Chris Bombardier of Denver, Colorado on January 6th became the first hemophiliac to climb the Seven Summits of the world with his successful climb of Mount Vinson in Antarctica, a journey made possible with a grant from Octapharma USA. The Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent, are a feat just over 400 people can claim.
Octapharma USA also sponsored Bombardier’s climb in 2017 up Mount Everest, the historic mountain in Nepal. Octapharma’s partnership with the mountain climber also includes sponsorship of Bombardier Blood, a documentary scheduled for release later this year that will tell his inspirational story.
“It was incredible to have Octapharma as a partner on this climb as well,” said Bombardier. “Climbing the 16,050 feet of Mount Vinson was the last climb in my dream of completing the Seven Summits. I could not have made it without the support of Octapharma, Save One Life and countless others. Together, we have shown the world what can be achieved with the proper support and medical treatment.”
Octapharma USA President Flemming Nielsen said that Bombardier’s journey has inspired thousands of people around the world.
“Chris has shown all of us that anything is possible if we keep working toward our dreams,” said Nielsen. “Everyone at Octapharma congratulates Chris on this incredible accomplishment. It has been an honor for Octapharma to support his mission and we want him to know that our team has been cheering him on with every step of this incredible journey.”
Editing for Bombardier Blood will wrap in the spring, according to Believe Limited CEO Patrick James Lynch, the documentary’s director and a filmmaker with severe Hemophilia.
“We are so proud of Chris for showing the world what people with Hemophilia are capable of when they have access to medication,” said Lynch. “With proper medical care, we can accomplish anything. Believe Limited is grateful to Octapharma for helping to bring this message to people worldwide.”
Bombardier Blood highlights the disparity in health care in Nepal using Bombardier’s recent Everest summit as a backdrop. Please visit www.bombardierblood.com for more information and a preview of the documentary.
About the Octapharma Group
Headquartered in Lachen, Switzerland, Octapharma is one of the largest human protein products manufacturers in the world and has been committed to patient care and medical innovation since 1983. Its core business is the development and production of human proteins from human plasma and human cell lines. Octapharma employs approximately 7,100 people worldwide to support the treatment of patients in over 113 countries with products across the following therapeutic areas: Hematology (coagulation disorders), Immunotherapy (immune disorders) and Critical Care. The company’s American subsidiary, Octapharma USA, is located in Hoboken, N.J. Octapharma operates two state-of-the-art production sites licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), providing a high level of production flexibility. For more information, please visit www.octapharmausa.com.
Mountain climber Chris Bombardier of Denver, Colorado on January 6th became the first hemophiliac to climb the Seven Summits of the world with his successful climb of Mount Vinson in Antarctica, a journey made possible with a grant from Octapharma USA.
If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. —Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
I’ve never met anyone in my life–and I have met some pretty amazing people in my several careers–who dreamed a dream, set the course, followed through against all odds, and made it happen in the way that Chris Bombardier has. If you met him, and I hope you do, you would be thunderstruck that this shy, extremely humble young man will soon conquer the Seven Summits.
And not just achieving an incredible goal that only about 450 people in the history of the world have ever done. No one has ever done this who has a bleeding disorder. No one might ever repeat this in my lifetime. We are witnessing history in the making! In hemophilia terms, this ranks right up there with landing a man on the moon.
Chris leaves tomorrow, Christmas Day, for the last adventure on this journey that has consumed the last few years of his young life. I interviewed him last week, before the holidays. How did he feel?
“I’m looking forward to my last summit bid—Mt. Vinson. I’m leaving my wife and family on Christmas Day to basically a frozen desert. On December 29, I’ll leave from Chile to fly to the Antarctica continent. I’ll land on Union Glacier, and from there we will get a flight to the mountain base camp, but everything depends on the weather. Base camp is a few miles from the base of Vinson. We’ll stay at camp, sort out our gear, then start the hike.”
I actually traveled with Chris last March when we trekked to Everest base camp, which took 9 days. It was freezing by the time we got to base camp. I stayed three days but Chris had to stay about a month to acclimate, as Everest is 29,000 feet. How long will it take to summit Vinson, which is 16,050 feet?
“It should take us about seven days total. Our challenges this time isn’t the lack of oxygen, like on Everest, but the weather and temperatures. Temperatures can be all over the place, but pretty much it will be below zero all of the time. The wind is the worst here. The wind brings the temperature down, and you can easily get frostbitten.”
With Chris will be his trustworthy guide Ryan Waters, founder and president of Mountain Professionals of Colorado. Ryan’s guided Chris on 5 of the Seven Summits. This one will make it 6! This trip, like the Everest one, is being fully sponsored by Octapharma, which manufactures blood-clotting products like Nuwiq® and wilate®.
What’s even more impressive is that Chris has undertaken these climbs not to make history or for personal glory. He knows that it will gather world-wide attention, but not for himself, but to highlight the inequity in treatment for those with hemophilia in developing countries. He worked in Kenya, before he started his climbs, helping to establish a lab in Eldoret, and what he saw convinced him he had to draw attention to how much people with bleeding disorders suffer. Chris and I met in 2011 at a NACCHO conference; after I gave my talk about our work in developing countries helping people with bleeding disorders, Chris told me he wanted to do the Seven Summits–just a wild dream he had to help bring attention to this problem. A lover of mountains myself, and avid reader of those who undergo extreme hardship while exploring (David Livingston, I presume?) and achieving (Mallory, because he’s there), and reading everything I could get my hands on related to summiting anything, I told Chris go for it, and I will help in every way humanly possible. He did all the training and work, and I’ve been cheering him on! And Chris joined our board of directors at Save One Life.
Chris wants to dedicate this climb to raising money for our scholarship program. He writes,
“With your support, I know I can make this climb successful!
“No longer can anyone say that someone with hemophilia can’t climb Everest, Vinson or reach any dream, as long as they have with proper treatment, training and medical care. By standing on these Seven Summits, I hope to show what is possible. I hope by holding the Save One Life banner on each summit we can show the world that only 25% of people living with hemophilia even have access to adequate treatment to chase dreams. Let’s help everyone aim for their dreams by helping to raise $16,050—the height of Vinson— for our scholarships!”
Chris is doing the hard part; let’s help him achieve this last mountain and goal by raising $16,050! If he can climb Vinson, then we can raise the money!
“Exploring the Next Frontier” was the theme for the 69th annual National Hemophilia Foundation meeting in the dazzling city of Chicago. A record-breaking 2,987 community members flocked to the Windy City (do you know why it’s called that?)—patients, treatment center staff, industry representatives and hemophilia organization advocates—to share stories, to educate, to network, and to learn.
For me, it was my 25th annual meeting, and more like a huge family reunion. With so many friends from past meetings and local chapter meetings and correspondence, on top of all my new friends on Facebook, it was almost impossible to go from point A to point B without bumping into someone I knew!
Brian Andrews, chair of NHF, opened the weekend-long event Thursday evening by welcoming everyone; Val Bias, CEO, stressed inclusiveness and our diversity: individually he welcomed the VWD community, the FX, FI, FXIII, women with bleeding disorders (not VWD but hemophilia!) communities, who all stood up. Val then placed the focus on the National AIDS Memorial Grove, San Francisco, on which names of those with hemophilia lost to AIDS are carved. A touching video showed the memorial, with comments from community members, in particular Jeanne White-Ginder, whose son Ryan White, our own national hero, in 1982 put a tender young face to the scourge of hemophilia/AIDS by refusing to accept being ousted from his school. His stand led to a national movement to better understand the suffering of AIDS patients, the discrimination they faced and the erroneous fear that electrified Americans, most of whom believed you could contract HIV just from a handshake.
It was a beautiful video, and Jeanne concluded it with a heartfelt, tearful speech about her love for our community. Val asked for donations, to raise $50,000 for the Memorial, and by the close of the conference, $41,000 had been raised!
The next few days were jam-packed with activities, educational sessions, and walks through the industry and nonprofit booths downstairs, where consumers could play games, speak with reps, and pick up literature on products and services.
Our own Save One Life had a booth that actively received inquiries on how to sponsor a child with a bleeding disorder in a developing country.
The highlight of my visit was the Octapharma symposium Friday morning, showcasing the documentary trailer for “Bombardier Blood,” directed by Patrick James Lynch, who has hemophilia A. Patrick shared the incredible story of the making of the documentary—a project of which I was a part! I traveled to Nepal (visit #4) to introduce Patrick and his team to the Nepalese Hemophilia Society, and to watch as the team filmed Chris Bombardier (factor IX, from Denver) visit the treatment center, travel to patients’ homes, and attend a fun cultural evening before heading out to attempt to summit Mt. Everest. I also accompanied Chris, his wife Jess and photographer Rob Bradford, all the way to Everest Base Camp.
Although I was with them the week in Kathmandu, and then endured the rugged 9-day trek to base camp at 17,500 feet, and then shivered three days at base camp, with 1° temps at night, nothing, nothing stirred me as much as watching the documentary. The full impact of Chris’s sacrifices, the months of training, overcoming fears, and the pressure on this young man to succeed, hit me full force as we saw in six minutes scenes from Denver, from Nepal, patients, base camp… and Chris on the summit, talking through his oxygen mask, holding a banner on which was written the names of Nepalese patients with hemophilia. He did it for them; he did it for us.
Over 360 people had permits to climbing Everest that season; 60 summited, including Chris; 10 died, including a world class alpinist, Ueli Steck. Chris risked his life to achieve something no one in history had done: being the first with hemophilia to summit Mt. Everest. Listening to Patrick, and seeing the beautiful trailer, we were all wiping away tears. The human heart has so much potential for courage, for sacrifice for our fellow humans, for overcoming fear and pain. Chris embodied all this.
I worried for the next speaker: how do you top that? But you know, Seth Rojhani, a young man from Denver, nailed it. His story was incredibly motivating and uplifting: being born with hemophilia, then losing your ability to walk after having a spinal bleed, and the surgeons severing your spine accidentally. But nothing has stopped Seth. He loved sports, and with the full support from his wonderful parents (who I am proud to say I know) he participated in many sports!
With his favorite basketball team the Denver Nuggets, Seth Rojhani went on to form “Rolling Denver Nuggets,” a basketball team for wheelchair participants. I loved when he shared his formula for success:
He stayed on a consistent prophy schedule; He rested until all injuries healed; He visited his HTC often. Seth received numerous athletic awards, including the Bronze medal for his team in the Maccabiah Games in Israel this past July. And he promptly pulled out the gleaming medal for the audience to see! Seth said, “Hemophilia is a speed bump, not an obstacle.” He also shared that his father, Ira, told him, “Think positive and good things will happen.” His belief in this way of thinking has never let him down.
When asked of the three participants—Patrick, Chris and Seth—what was the biggest challenge they faced in life, Patrick mentioned losing his brother Adam. His brother never identified with the hemophilia community, and felt isolated, alone. He might as well lived on the outskirts of Nepal, exclaimed Patrick, without factor or comprehensive care. Patrick’s greatest challenge is overcoming the loss of his brother. Chris’s? Not Mt. Everest but needles! Chris has a needle phobia! And Seth? Being told no so much in his life.
The speakers deservedly received a standing ovation for their incredible stories and work. The three days were filled with symposia and sessions. For first time, the LGBT community had their own session, led by our own (New England-based) Justin Levesque. And I am proud to say that PEN was the first publication in our community to publish an article about the community needs, also written by Justin.
Women with bleeding disorder and those with VWD were also given lots of meeting and air time. You can see a big shift in mindsets this year about inclusion in our community. Those on the fringe are now being heard.
There were also sessions for siblings and one for men only; sessions about pain management, addiction, and gene therapy. The only bad thing about NHF’s Annual meeting is that there is so much to see, hear and do! I couldn’t take in everything unfortunately.
The event ended with a stunning visit to the world famous Field Museum, sponsored by Bioverativ, where families could see the wonders of nature and natural history. My favorite display are “The Ghost and the Darkness,” two man-eating lions from Tsavo, Kenya, which were killed in 1898 after they had killed many workers on the railroad. A Hollywood movie starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas tells a somewhat fictional version of the story. It’s a good story but better to see them for real at the museum.
He did it! History made! Chris Bombardier, the young man from Denver, Colorado with hemophilia B, around 10 pm last night became the first person in history with hemophilia to summit Mt. Everest! Everest alone is an incredible challenge due to the high altitude, which kicks in on the nine-day trek to base camp at about 10,000 feet. Everest is 29,029 ft. Chris has hemophilia, and faces prolonged bleeding from injuries. He uses an extended half-life product, which will help increase the length of time factor circulates in his blood. So many have asked how he is protecting himself: factor, prophylaxis, oxygen tanks, and great sherpas to help guide him. It takes a special kind of person to dream of this, train for this, and take on this. And he is doing this not just for personal best record or even to make history, but to shine a spotlight on the huge disparity in care between hemophilia treatment in countries like the US and in countries like Nepal.
Read from his blog, Adventures of a Hemophiliac. What does a guy with hemophilia think and feel before undertaking a history-making adventure?
Infusing on a rock!
TUESDAY May 16
I finished my last infusion at base camp and tomorrow morning our team will begin our summit push. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the feelings I am currently having. I’m excited, nervous, scared and hopeful all at the same time. I know the next week of my life will be incredibly hard, full of moments of questioning my sanity and of overwhelming joy. I’ll be able to witness some of the most amazing views on this planet and also be more exhausted than I have ever been.
Through the hard moments and the amazing moments I know that I have a family that is supporting me no matter what. My beautiful and strong wife, my incredible parents, aunts, uncles and friends will be with me ever step of the way. I also know that I have my bleeding disorder family from all over the globe cheering me on and that makes me feel strong.
As I pack my gear and put my boots on in the morning and walk into the [Khumbu] icefall with only the light of my headlamp showing the way, I’ll think about how fortunate I am to be able to choose this life and this adventure. Choose to try and push myself farther than I could ever dream and step on the top of the world. I’ll also think about all my blood brothers and sisters that aren’t able to have that choice…. yet. I’ll remember that by standing on the summit and by raising awareness about hemophilia and disparity in care, we can change that.
The hope is that we can summit on May 22. While I am challenging myself on the mountain I want to challenge all of you. We already met the goal of finding sponsors for every child on the Save One Life, Inc. website. 55 kids have now been sponsored since I began this adventure! Let’s not stop there!
The climbers promoting Save One Life
I would love to see the fundraising page for my Everest climb reach $8,848, the amount of meters above sea level the summit reaches. I won’t know if we’ve reached that goal until two days after the summit and I reach basecamp but that would be icing on the cake. Those funds will help those with hemophilia in Nepal continue to rebuild after the earthquake. It will help them climb their own personal “Everest” and work towards living the lives they choose. I would also urge you to reach out to Save One Life and put your name on the waiting list to sponsor a child. There will be more children added soon and they all could use our help.
Thank you all for the support and hopefully in few days no one will be able to say someone with hemophilia can’t climb Everest.
Navigating the Khumbu icefall: first steps to Everest
And thanks to Octapharma for sponsoring Chris’s historic climb!
If you’ve been following my blogs and Facebook postings, you’ll know that we have history in the making: Chris Bombardier is poised to be the first person with hemophilia to attempt to summit Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Risky? Beyond words. I’ve read all the books, about Everest and many other legendary mountain climbs; I’ve read about the history of mountain climbing. I’ve done some mountain climbing and most recently accompanied Chris on the nine-day trek to base camp. Not a Sunday stroll! It’s cold, hostile, and indescribably beautiful.
Even just being at base camp proved fatal for some two years ago on April 25, 2015 when an earthquake struck during the extremely short climbing season, killing over a dozen people in base camp, just over a small hill behind our camp site.
Today we sadly learned that a legendary Swiss climber has died near Everest. Ueli Steck, 40, was attempting to be the first person to climb both Everest and Lhotse in one climb, and is believed to have slipped while acclimatizing.
According to the news wires: “He had been alone, and was last seen on nearby Mount Nuptse around 4.30 am. Steck, whose Everest-Lhotse climb would involve spending a night in the ‘death zone’ …had said before his trip: ‘I think it is possible but that’s the exciting thing, nobody has done that before,’ he said.’”
Immediately I started getting texts from concerned community members, about Chris.
We don’t know all the details of this tragic loss. Steck, called “The Swiss Machine,” was said to be meticulous and exacting. He was a world class mountaineer. I read he was alone, but we don’t know yet the conditions or the circumstances. He was trying to do something no one else had done before.
Chris is also doing something no one else has done before. But Chris will never be alone, and is also a slow, meticulous and cautious climber. Our main concern is infusing at over 21,000 feet. So far, so good.
Today, April 30, Chris just returned from a climb to Camp 3, which sits at 24,500 feet. He writes: “The team and I have returned from our camp 3 rotation! A great climb today and the team moved really well as a single unit up and down safely!” This was the highest elevation Chris has ever climbed to…with another 4,500 feet still to go to the summit. “After Camp 3 it’s back to Base Camp for some much needed rest and healing,” he writes, “while we wait for weather to attempt our Summit push!”
Up to Camp 3!
Chris does climb at great risk, and his reward is to help those who suffer with hemophilia in countries like Nepal. “While up here at Camp 2, I’d love to get 2 more kids sponsored today! Please check out Save One Life, Inc. and pick someone’s life to save! Ask a friend, a family member, a colleague, a boss even! Inspire others!”
A humanitarian, Chris adds, “As I reflect on my journey with hemophilia tonight I can’t grasp the true struggle these families deal with. I am lucky to be able to try and climb Mt. Everest while those in the same country don’t even have a permanent home to live in. For me, I hope this climb can have a positive impact on the families here in Nepal and I encourage you all to try and donate to http://www.saveonelife.net/everest-2017.php. The money raised here will go directly to those families in need in Nepal and hopefully make having a permanent roof over their heads something they no longer have to worry about.”
Please keep Chris in your thoughts and prayers as he undertakes this monumental, historic climb on a mountain that requires so much risk, offers so much reward, and has taken so many.
As he risks so much, please honor his climb and efforts by contributing to Save One Life, Inc. Go to my Facebook page to see a video of Amos, of Ghana, a young man I sponsor, who walks bent over, suffering from permanent joint damage.
It’s for patients like Amos that Chris climbs, and risks so much.