Hemophilia History Made: Everest Summit!

Mountaineer Chris Bombardier

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!
Visit our Gallery to see the trek to base camp!
Visit our Gallery to see our visit to Nepal’s hemophilia families
Read more about our Nepal trip here!
“Climbing, simply and joyfully, is the way I love the world.” Steph Davis, High Infactuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity

Start of Our Trek! April 2-6, 2017

Sunday April 2, 2017 
Jess and Chris Bombardier
“Do not imagine that the journey is short; and one must have the heart of a lion to follow this unusual road, for it is very long… one plods along in a state of amazement, sometimes smiling, sometimes weeping.”   Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds: A Sufi Fable
The climb begins! I’m accompanying Chris Bombardier of Denver to Everest Base Camp, where Chris will stay till end of May in the attempt to be the first person with hemophilia to summit Mt. Everest! (www.bombardierblood.com)
Day 1 of our base camp trek started at the Yak and Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu at 4:15 am. I was up, packed and ready to roll by 4:45 am. Ryan Waters, the team’s mountaineer guide, and lead Sherpa Tashi loaded everything into the bus and we were all off to the airport: me, Chris and Jess Bombardier, cameraman Rob Bradford and seven other climbers.
Laurie Kelley in Lukla
The sky was dark, the streets of Kathmandu empty. Security was easy. The flight to Lukla was only 45 minutes; this is the famous airport with about the shortest runway in the world! The flight got extremely turbulent at one point. We disembarked at Lukla and it was stunning. 9,000 feet high with soaring snow-capped peaks surrounding it. My first impression were all the faces of the young Nepalese men, hoping to be chosen as porters, peering at us eagerly through the mesh-wire fence at the perimeter of the tiny airport. It was only 7 am . We walked up the steps and met Lukla.
Lukla is a village, teeming with small shops on cobblestone streets, displaying everything you need to trek. Mixed breed mountain dogs lounged on doorsteps in the sunshine, women set up their wares outside their shops. There was an abundance of restaurants and hotels. It was thriving. We all gathered upstairs at a restaurant for breakfast and tea. I had hot muesli—delicious, and “milk tea,” which is creamy and thick. 
We walked about town while waiting for Rob’s luggage to arrive. I bought a used fleece buff, which I needed later. We visited a monastery there, which was amazingly beautiful. We also strode up to a stupa, to see the fluttering prayer flags with the Himalaya as a backdrop. The name Himalaya means home (alya) of snow (hima).

At last the lost luggage arrived and we started hiking. We walked a whole 15 minutes before we had to stop at the Everest Forest Gate to get permits. A small yak stood waiting. The sun was getting stronger already and soon we were sweating. We went downhill and much of the trail reminded me of those in New Hampshire. It was very rocky and uneven, tricky to navigate. The trail led to a huge valley with a river that ran with silvery turquoise water. Porters dodged us as they hurried by with huge loads, secured by plastic band across their foreheads. Some only wore flip flops on these rugged trails.
Everest National Park
Chris and Ryan watch the yak caravan
We hiked for a little over an hour, passing little villages with shops and “mani stones,” huge black rocks with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum  (“Hail to the jewel in the lotus”) carved into the stone and painted white. We stopped for lunch at a wonderful outdoor restaurant in the heart of hills.
Mani Stones: “Om Mani Padme Hum”
We set out again at 2 pm, over long, metal suspension bridges that sway over deep gorges. Lacing them were prayer flags in the colors of the world: blue for sky; white for air; green for water; yellow for earth; red for fire. Down rocky courses, up hills, always hiking to the left of the stupas or mani stones, the clockwise direction in which the earth and the universe revolve, according to Buddhist doctrine. We were warned about the many yak caravans. They stop for nothing. When you hear the cowbells jangling on the necks of the yaks, you must step aside, preferably against the stones or hill, and not near the edge of a trail, where you might get pushed off!
Laurie Kelley and Chris Bombardier on a
suspension bridge
There is so much traffic on the trail; it’s not at all what I expected. We pass through village after village. A writhing fence made of  thorn vines borders one trail. Above crows caw loudly like old men with a joke: ha HA!
I climb one steep section and am winded! At 3:30 pm we reach our first tea house, quiet though rustic. My room is upstairs, four walls, a green rug, a little table and two little beds. I have a view of a beautiful mountain. It’s cold; I’m sweaty. There’s one communal bathroom for the whole floor. And… I have severe heartburn. 
Tuesday April 4, 2017

We had climbed 2,000 feet yesterday, which took us about 5 hours, the longest day of the trek. After arriving at the tea house, I changed clothes to keep warm. The dining room has little tables around the perimeter, all wood but very cold. All I ate was porridge for dinner, not feeling hungry. As soon as I was done I went to bed. 
Dodh Kosi River
We were up early in the frigid air. I was shaking as I got out of my warm sleeping bag. The hike today was not hard but so crowded! You actually were rubbing shoulders with other people along the trail, trying to avoid the powerful yaks as they passed. The scenery was beautiful. Soaring mountains, snow-capped, rising above the pine trees. The rushing Dodh Kosi river is the color of sea-glass. We became sweaty hot when we stepped into the sunshine but as soon as we hit shade it became chilly. The well-defined trail rambled up and down, mostly up, then down a dirt path as we strolled through another village. Sometimes you even had to wait in line to ascend an area!
We stopped for lunch this day at a small, touristy restaurant, and a border collie collapsed at my feet. I offered it rice but it wasn’t interested–village dogs are that well fed. I had a hearty lunch of rice and sauce. The sun was searing!
We headed out again and passed through pastoral scenes: stone cottages, cabbage fields, women hoeing. Everywhere prayer flags fluttered. At some point I lost the group and just hiked amidst all the other tourists of different nationalities. We did come to a huge suspension bridge, the one portrayed in the movie Everest. It’s over a 200 foot gorge with the crashing Dodh Kosi river below. It buckled and swayed under us, making us feel like we were in a funhouse. 
I breathed heavily and took it slow; my lower back started aching. Maybe I overloaded my backpack? Even Chris took my jacket to spare me some weight. Pasan, one of our sherpas, offered to carry my pack finally. Bless him! Now he was carrying about 50 lbs. in weight while I had none. And still I struggled. Yaks walked ahead of us, blocking the trail and mercifully slowing us down.
After an hour we made it to Namche Bazar, a famous stop over for trekkers. I could only think about crawling into bed. Chris made me feel better by saying that the group only had arrived 10 minutes ahead of me, but it felt like an hour.
My small room had three cots, and… a private bathroom and shower! And hot water. It was 4 pm and I laid down and drifted in and out of sleep. I didn’t realize it but I was being slowly overtaken by food poisoning.
Tashi and Pasan later look in on me, and brought me garlic soup, which they claimed was good for me, thinking I had altitude sickness. But nothing smelled or tasted good. Even water didn’t appeal to me. Ryan came in to check on me and I was bundled in bed, up to my chin, drained. I took two sips of water and immediately vomited. Everything passed through me till there was nothing left, all night long. It was a miserable, long night. The attacks came so violently. I started thinking dismal thoughts: I’m weak, I can’t even master 11,000 feet! I have to give up trekking. Chris will never want to climb with me again. 
In the morning, I don’t ever remember feeling so dehydrated. It’s a panicky feeling. I only wanted a tangerine or apple; so Tashi found some for me, and I gingerly ate them. Ryan gave me an anti-nausea pill which did the trick. Finally I could drink water and keep it down. Nothing ever tasted as good as that tangerine. 
I rested all morning in bed. Later, I joined our climbers for lunch, where I only managed one piece of toast and tea.  Even the short walk up the stairs to my room tired me out. It was luxurious to lay on a cot, two piles of fleece blankets on me. By evening, Ryan came to visit again, and we talked options. The best one was for me to stay in Namche an extra day and catch up with the group in two days, on Friday (their rest day). I would have one Sherpa with me. I felt badly being the weak link, then learned also that Rob had been ill as well.
Wednesday April 5, 2017
I felt so much better when I awoke at 7 am. I said my goodbyes to the group, and Tashi hugged me good-bye as they all left. Back in the room, the last thing I wanted was to crawl back into bed. That was a good sign. And after two hours I was hungry again. I showered with steaming hot, solar-heated water, for a last shower in who knows how long. 
The Nepalese all want me to stay warm. Put on a hat. Drink garlic soup. Have tea. Such lovely people: quiet, respectful, kind. You never observe loud, brash, self-important behavior. 
3:44 pm. We’re back from our little trek up to the Sherpa museum. The walk was hard at first. Slow, slow, step by step. I had to get my breathing right; my quads burned. The stone steps up to the museum are ragged and well traversed, decorated with yak dung the whole way up. Lhakpa, my personal sherpa, is so thoughtful. He took my camera, my coat and hat, whatever I didn’t need. He dropped my hat accidentally, then retrieved it and meticulously dusted it off. The vista at the top of the hill was obscured by clouds but at least I saw the statue of Tenzing Norgay, the first person known to summit Mt. Everest, along with Sir Edmund Hillary.  

Thursday April 6, 2017

Last night in Namche. I went to bed at 8:30 pm after a brief dinner I had no heart for. Just half a bowl of vegetable soup, an egg, a slice of apple and potato slices. Although we are still in Namche, I had to have my room moved, as I was not supposed to be here last night. My new room was tiny, ground floor, in a poorly made shed-like abode. The walls are paper thin and I could actually here every sound, even breathing, of people next door. I read for a while, tried to sleep, but it’s too noisy. My heart seemed to be pounding in my chest from the altitude. I slept from 11 pm to 1 am, then the village dogs started their infernal barking, up to three bouts an hour. I was up for good at 5 am.
I felt better today despite all. I sat outside in the sunshine, waiting for Lhakpa, watching the comings and goings. Finally we stepped out. Lhakpa had to carry his backpack and my rucksack. He’s only 29 and couldn’t weight more than 130 lbs. This was a huge load to carry. But if I struggled with my jacket, he was there to help. 
Then we started, straight up the steps at a 45° angle. I was already winded and we had barely started! I felt like an old car that tries to turn over on a cold morning, and after a few tries, gets started but needs time to warm up. Yaks passed, cow bells jangling. It was a sky-blue day and the Khumba valley opened below us to an incredible vista. This trek would take us to the Tenbouche monastery and eventually Dingbouche. We walked at a slow pace, no rush. 
There were long sections of uphill climbs, through pine trees. We slogged away, step by step. I’d pause to breathe and let porters hike by. It’s amazing how much the porters carry. One porter carried enormous slabs of plywood, four sheets at about 8′ by 4′, and he all of 5′ tall. Another old porter carried a washing machine box on his back, and a rucksack, and another box. It was three times his size. 
Eventually we came to a clearing where I saw my first glimpse of Mt. Everest! Stunning! Clouds fluttered and streamed from its peak like the numerous prayer flags we saw. The mountains defy description. Brown barren rock mountains in the foreground, seemingly strategically placed to lead the eye to distant Everest, so coldly beautifully.
Prayer wheels
Downhill, uphill. The trail was edged by juniper and other conifer trees. I plodded at a yak pace. Except that yaks passed me! The yaks are enormous, shaggy-furred cattle creatures with huge horns. After lunch we clacked over the metal suspension bridge with spectacular views on either side. Even coming off the bridge, going slightly uphill, my quads burned. We saw prayer wheels that turned eternally, hydropowered by the river below it; as they spin they send their prayers off to heaven. 
There was a lot of uphill trekking and honestly we all struggled. Sherpas, porters, women, men, young, old, Japanese, Hungarian, Spanish… we all moved like in slow motion. The sun seared us, but the mountains called us.
 Lots of dusty switchbacks, up and up. Occasionally a yak plodded down, bareback, its load deposited at base camp. I was so slow I separated from everyone, including my Sherpa.  Finally, around 3 pm, we reached the Tenbouche Monastery, at 12,687 feet, founded in 1923.
Lhakpa was no where to be seen. So I waited in the shade, and gazed at the amazing, peaceful monastery. I was amused to see the shaved-head monks walking about in their crimson robes, with Nike sneakers on. I went inside the monastery, removing my dirty hiking boots. Outside, the most peaceful of scenes: grass, stupas, three beautiful horses grazing until three rowdy dogs chased them. A helicopter landed, sending a yak scurrying, depositing a trekker. Fluttering prayer flags provided bursts of color everywhere. Inside, a sole monk chanted prayers, fingering his beads, while trekkers like me sat quietly around the perimeter on mats, waiting. The room was brightly painted with scenes of Buddha.
Back outside, I found Lhakpa. This was not our final destination, so we kept walking, another 15-20 minutes to Dibouche, passing a well-defined and treacherously rocky route, lined by deciduous trees, Finally our tea house, “Rivendell,” named after the Lord of the Rings home of the elves. I saw a big room, private bath. We would give it a one-star, but to me it could not be more four-star! Hot water… simple pleasures. I was deliriously happy!

(Read part 2 next week!)



Off to Nepal.. and Everest

I’m sitting at Gate 11, Terminal E, waiting for my flight to Nepal, and just remembered I didn’t lock either of my checked bags. I never forget something like that. I’m a bit distracted: my head’s on the upcoming climb to Everest base camp. Everything else is packed: climbing gear, boots, trekking poles, layers and layers of clothing (base layer, mid-layers, outer shells), medicine to cover all typical ailments including altitude sickness and bronchial infections, expedition sunglasses, hats, bandanas, gloves and liners… somehow it all fit into the North Face Base Camp bag with room to spare. I filled that room with donated stuffed animals for the kids in Nepal. hopefully it will all be there when I arrive in Kathmandu!

How are the kids in Nepal? We have about 100 of them registered with Save One Life and track their progress through our program. Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries, and yet it has a stellar Nepal Hemophilia Society run by people with hemophilia. For the beneficiaries of Save One Life, we check to see if they have enough income, are in school, and whether they get treatment for their hemophilia. We have many prominent sponsors in our community who fund these families.
Laurie Kelley with Youth Group, Nepal Hemophilia Society
September 2015
The country suffered a devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015; several members of the hemophilia community died. The hospital was damaged; homes left in piles of bricks. I toured the earthquake damage when I was there in September 2015, and realized in the global hemophilia community there is no emergency response protocol or team. It doesn’t happen often, but in earthquake prone areas like Nepal, it would be a good program to establish.
See my trip to Nepal 6 months after the earthquake here. 
I’m looking forward this coming week to meeting our kids again, seeing what the needs are, how they have managed. We raised funds shortly after the earthquake with the massive help of the Mary Gooley Center in Rochester, New York, to help with housing and necessities. Patrick James Lynch and his team at Believe Ltd. is coming on this trip as well to make a documentary about life in developing countries, through the eyes of Chris Bombardier, a young man with hemophilia B from Denver, Colorado, who will be the first person with hemophilia to attempt to summit Everest!
I’ll be with Chris this week as we tour homes and the hospital, and visit the earthquake areas. Then Chris, his wife Jess, photographer Rob Bradford and I all head out for Everest base camp on April 2 with renowned guide Ryan Waters of Mountain Professionals. Ryan has accompanied Chris on four of his Seven Summits. Everest will be Chris’s sixth summit… and that would leave Mt. Vinson in Antarctica.
Chris infusing on a summit!
Chris would have summited Vinson by now, but he was denied access! Why?

Because he has hemophilia–a “disability.” Huh. Chris has a few things to show the guys in Antarctica. 

Chris also has a few things to show his peers in developing countries. The mountain is a metaphor for overcoming any challenge. You can’t get anywhere in life unless you first set your sights on a summit; get the right equipment; train, train, train–success is hard work; map your route; get a guide; then go.
Waiting to see this on Everest!
Go Chris! We wish you success and safety, and everyone thanks you for your heroic efforts on behalf of people with hemophilia everywhere!
Sign up to get notifications about Chris’s historic here!

From the bottom of our hearts and hiking boots we wish to thank Octapharma for completely funding Chris’s climb, and Believe Ltd.’s documentary. While there is no amount of money that can compensate Chris for his time and personal risks, none of this adventure and effort would be possible without Octapharma’s generous support and more importantly, its belief in Chris and Save One Life. Chairman Wolfgang Marguerre has been one of Save One Life’s biggest supporter and sponsor of children with hemophilia in developing countries. He truly believes in our mission. Thank you Mr. Marguerre and all your colleagues, including Flemming Neilsen and Carl Trenz, for your help and support!

If you would like to sponsor a chid in need, visit www.SaveOneLife.net to learn more. Together we are improving lives with hemophilia…one at a time.

“All I want for Christmas…”

Jagatman’s amputation

“All I want for Christmas…” It isn’t two front teeth. (Did you know that Nat King Cole does a version of that song?) 

It’s a leg.

With all the shopping we do at Christmas, imagine wishing only for a leg. When I visited Nepal in September, I reported on one of our “boys,” Jagatman. He’s only 26, same age as my daughter Tara. Unlike her, his life is so uncertain and frail. He has hemophilia; he lives in a country that purchases no factor. 

Jagatman at work

And he lost his leg due to an untreated bleed. Through Project SHARE, we provided factor for the surgery to remove his leg, to save his life. And he’s so grateful to us. Sigh, the fates must be angry. The April 25 earthquake ripped apart his brick home. I stood before the rubble of what once was the home of the Rajbchak family. 

But he has a mobile phone repair shop (Save One Life helped get him started with funding) and I saw him eagerly at work. He’s good! Industrious, focused and determined to succeed. It must have taken a lot of courage to ask me to help him purchase a leg. He’s outgrown his current prosthetic; it hurts him. Given the high tolerance for pain these boys have, it must re

ally hurt him. He earns only about $500 a month from the shop, and must pay rent. The leg he showed me in a colorful brochure costs almost $4,000. A fortune. A king’s ransom.

With brother Monsoon,
who also has hemophilia

But I promised this handsome young man that by Christmas, we’d buy him that leg. What better gift?

And last week we made good. The money was wired and he will soon have his leg. Despite a chronic disorder, limited access to medicine and poverty, Jagatman is beating the odds. His attitude is astounding; his determination like Rocky’s. His focus like a laser beam. 

And he’ll never know that the gift he’s given me is so much more than anything I can ever give him. 

Merry Christmas to our friends in Nepal, and those with bleeding disorders everywhere!

Great Book I Just Read

Life [Kindle]
Keith Richards

Best rock bio I have ever read. Told by the iconic guitarist of the Rolling Stones, Richards almost seems as surprised by his life’s journey as you are bound to be after reading this. Meticoulously detailed, Richards shares his humble beginnings, his teen encounter with life long rock partner Mick Jagger, their rocky road to fame, the drugs, the alcohol… but what makes this bio so different is first, the Stones are one of the greatest rock bands in the world, from the early 60s and still playing! Second, Richards delves into the music: his love of American blues, what he wrote, why, how he got ideas, the chords, the notes, the guitars. This is what I have been wanting to know: how do these musicians create? He’s a voracious reader, loves his library, and lives in Connecticut, a few hours from me. He’s a survivor for sure, and what a story he has to tell. Five/five stars!

Nepal Part 3: “You’ve Been Saving Us”

Was it the
altitude? At 4,430 feet, being in Kathmandu, Nepal is  like being in Denver. It’s enough to slow you
down and dehydrate you if you are not accustomed to it. But I thought just do it. Go to see the famed “Monkey Temple.” Wednesday, September 2, was my day off.
I took a taxi over very bumpy, twisting roads where vehicles darted madly around us like metal dragonflies. Cars and motorbikes come
within inches of one another and somehow avoid accidents. The driver offered to
stay and wait an hour, which is all that it took. I recall being here in 1999, but with the April 25 earthquake, this World Heritage Site is in shock. The earthquake caused extensive damage to the temples and buildings. Dusty red bricks were piled up, or avalanched down stairs. Temples had huge cracks
in them, with plaster curling off them. Rhesus monkeys scooted up the sides of the
temples and into the doorways to steal the food offering left by pilgrims. Incense
mixed with acrid odors. And above it all, the eyes of Buddha stare down placidly and eternally from the highest temple.
Thursday September 3, 2015
Today I met
with the beneficiaries of Save One Life and presented their money to them.  The families were waiting for me and Laxmi, and I
smiled and waved at them when I entered, being casual so they would feel comfortable. Many
smiled back. The logistics were wonderful: a beautiful small stage,
bedecked in red; a big sign announcing Save One Life Fund Distribution. So many
young boys and older boys and families showed up.
We finally got settled, and the
ceremony began; there were many speeches and welcomes. I recall
Beda, man with hemophilia and president of the Nepal Hemophilia Society, said to the audience, “Pain and hemophilia are synonymous.” And then, “My mother used to
weep a lot,” as he
recounted his own childhood without factor.
Eventually we had the families
speak, and they did, from their hearts.
Mrs. Chaulagain gave a speech about her two sons with hemophilia, Pranit  and Pratik. There was domestic violence,
Laxmi translated for me. Her husband used to beat her; how
dare she provide not one but two sons with a chronic disorder for which there was
no treatment! He eventually left. They lived in poor conditions, and she
struggled to raise two boys. She thanks Save One Life and said she benefited
from the program and to keep it going a long time!
One father stood
and said, Our government won’t give treatment to us!  He said all
the hemophilia families are happy with Save One Life. They use the money for
school fees.
Mina has a son
with factor VIII deficiency; she is very happy with the support from SOL. Her
husband lives in another country, trying to earn money to send to them. So this
really helps her.
Then Nawraj, a
young man, 18, spoke: he said it was difficult to have
hemophilia during exam time (which is much more stressful in these countries
than in the US). He thank us for  Save One Life. He described his
pain, bleeding at night, and sometimes felt it was better not to have been born
than to be born with hemophilia. He lost a job due to so many bleeds. “Our
government has not recognized us,” he lamented, “because outwardly we look normal, so they
don’t pay us attention.” His speech was so impassioned about suffering. “You’ve been saving us,” he said. “It’s
because of you. I want to say more, but I cannot express it, the level of pain
I felt.”
Then Nawraj sang
a song that he composed. It was mournful, deep. Loosely translated, he sand, “I’m living alone, crying alone. Because of you, hemophilia…the pain is too much to bear! I’m sad, crying!”
And remember, on top of all this, these families have suffered through a tremendous earthquake that destroyed many of their homes! 
After all the
speeches came questions about hemophilia, which Ujol kindly answered. Then the ceremony:
we had gift bags for all the kids, courtesy of all the give-aways from NHF just
recently. Yes, I shamelessly confiscated about 50 bags from one homecare company, squeezy
toys for the kids veins from another.
The kids loved their
gifts. The older ones got t-shirts with hemophilia slogans on them (another involuntary
gift from yet another homecare company!). And each child received their annual
funds from Save One Life, about $240. For some this is a lot of money.
Then I gave a
speech! I started by asking what the highest mountain in the world was. Of
course they knew; it’s right in their country! Sagarmatha, better known in the
West as Mt. Everest. And I shared the story of a young American man with
hemophilia (Chris Bombardier) who plans to climb that mountain. We talked about
what’s possible, even without factor, and what’s possible with factor. Dreams,
goals… and never give up. I asked many children, What’s your dream? We went around the room asking each child: Engineer,
musician, teacher… they all had dreams. I told them we want to help make their
dreams come true.
Lunchtime was a
buffet of delicious local food: rice and chicken. The children played with
their new toys, and soon, the families dispersed happily. I too went back to my
hotel, happy, moved. Dedicated to these fine families.
Friday September 4, 2015
Today Laxmi
picked me up and we drove back to the NHS office, through the blackened air. The pollution in Kathmandu is deeply unhealthy; I often felt like I was hitched to an exhaust pipe. About 33% of the population wears surgical masks outside, and eventually I did too.
Inside the office was
a room full of wonderful, handsome young men, all ages 21-35. I was surprised
to see Deepak Neupane present; his eyes lit up when he saw me. I first met him
in 1999, when he was only 12 years old, and severely crippled. He became the
poster boy for WFH, and to this day they still use his image. He has
his hurts, is stoic, not overly friendly.  But Deepak is married. It was a happy reunion and he says he
remembers me.
One of the boys,
Raju, with a shock of dark hair, said, “Ma’am, I have to tell you this. You look like Barbie
doll!”  The boys all laughed.
I furiously took
notes as they spoke, while Laxmi recorded their names and ages. At the end,
when they had finished, I told them my name (they all knew) and said, And I am not going to tell you my age! And the
laughed in return. 
Durga Datta
Lamsal, age 27, a government employee, is the chair. He’s an impressive young man , soft spoken, a rising leader,
mature and responsible. I met Ashrit BK, who has an  inhibitor, 26 years old. He received a scholarship from us but is not attending now due to
bleeds. His left hand appears to have Volkman’s contracture.
John Bhuyel–who dared to sit in front of me with a NY
Yankees hat on–dreams to be a computer engineer and used my analogy from my speech about having dreams.
 I
learned that the Youth
Committee members are elected  with two-year terms. They organize a blood donation
camp twice a year. They are primarily social: sharing each other’s pain and what happens to each
other. They hold a Youth Camp annually, just the guys, usually for 5 days, and
they have lectures and do social things. This year they visited the mid-Western
region and had medics come lecture. 

 
When I asked if they did physical therapy at home, the whole room groaned and
eyes rolled. Oh, I hit a nerve. I felt like the mother asking her sons if
they made their bed or did their homework. Yeah, they know what to do but often “forget” to do it. Boys are the same the world over!
One sensitive
subject was marriage. In Nepal, arranged marriages are still common. What prospect
does a young man have to marry, when he is poor and disabled?  Jagatlal (“Monsoon”) is married but his was a love match.
They all agreed it was difficult; the girls often leave them when they see how
hard it is for them to have hemophilia. Krishna, a handsome young man with
large, soulful eyes, told me his girlfriend left him. It hurts a mother, all
mothers, to hear this about a young man.

To break the
increasingly somber mood, I brightly suggested a “Love Program” for the Youth
Group and they burst out laughing. How the Nepalese love to laugh!

Raju said Save One Life  helped him a lot. They were all very grateful for our
help.
At the end, we
shot some video of the boys telling their story of the earthquake, which was
emotional. Raju confided he was nervous (I think afraid of becoming too
emotional) and he talked on and on cathartically. His parents are
still living in a tent four months later.  
I learned that
they were coming back from camp when the earthquake struck. On the bus, they were
frightened; they saw people crying, and weren’t sure at first why. 
Then we did a
group shot, me and the boys. I gave them all my business cards, told
them they were the future leaders of the Society so learn leadership! And to be
mentors for the young ones, who need them. They presented me with a beautiful wall hanging of Buddha.
The NHS and I had a farewell dinner at 7:30 pm, and it was a relaxing end to the work week.  By 9 pm I was tired; we exchanged the gifts, and
Beda walked me from the hotel down to the main street so I could get a taxi. He
is disabled, and yet never complains. He rode in the taxi with me, so I would be
safe. He is a man of few words, but confided, You inspire me. I admire all your
work for all the people with hemophilia around the world.
Coming from him,
it was one of the highest complements I had ever received.
Saturday September 5, 2015
I awoke at 4:15
am, after waking up off and on since 10:30 pm, but it was overall a good sleep.
I hurriedly dressed. I pride myself on being
punctual and responsible. I tiptoed to the lobby, awaking the poor guys on duty
who were flopped on the lobby couches. And waited in the lobby for my ride. One
of the young managers, tall, thin and bespeckled, asked who I was waiting for? When
I replied The Mountain Flights tour, he said the ride was coming at 5:45
am
. I could have slept another whole hour!
Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha) in the background

I went back to
my room sheepishly, lay down and actually fell asleep at some point.  At 5:30 am,
back in the lobby, and the ride appeared. The trip to the airport was fast, and
the wait was until 7:15. Finally they
called our flight– Buddha Air 101, and I was hurried to the crowded bus which
took us to our plane. I didn’t expect much from a quick chartered flight but
the plane was pristine. We each got a window seat. Soon
we were aloft, and as we pulled away from Kathmandu, I saw the gray, dirty air,
which left the surrounding hills only blue silhouettes, become clearer and
cleaner, and the land becoming green with rolling discernible hills, dotted
with colorful pillow-candy colored houses. We were finally aloft, 22,000 feet
and within 20 minutes the Himalaya were in view.
There are no
words to describe how you feel. Your heart leaps with awe, with love for these antediluvian
guardians of the world, formed in the violence of the birth of a planet. The
first jutted straight up above the clouds like a sentinel, far away, like a
warning to be careful of the approach of the others. They almost seemed to have
personalities. They were majestic, powerful, magnetic. Then there were more and
more. I felt like I
was gazing upon the Gates of Heaven. 
A silence fell on the
plane as we stared at the snow giants. Soon, mighty Everest itself. Distant,
remote. I cannot  imagine what it could take to climb it and felt the urge to go to base camp some day!
When the mountains all
came within distance it was too much to process. The sharp drops, the edges, the
crevices, the seracs. One after another and another. Oh, they are just rocks,
but what beauty! What
spells do they cast over us that suddenly make us want to be there, climb them even
though we know we would put our life at risk?

All too soon we
had to return. That evening, I boarded Qatar Airways and left Nepal for the other side of the world.

See the full Gallery of photos of Nepal:
https://lakelley.smugmug.com/InternationalTravel/Save-One-Life/Nepal-2015/51907135_ww8cL6#!i=4344863638&k=3hmP65P

Great Book I Just Read
Savage Summit [Kindle]
Jennifer Jordan
K2 remains the most dangerous mountain in the world, with a death rate of 25%. Until 1986, only men had summited the Savage Summit. In this book, Jordan chronicles the lives of five women who made mountaineering history: the ones who summited K2. Ninety women have scaled Everest; of the only six women who summited K2, three lost their lives on the way back down. I worried about this book being a glorification of women who climbed K2 (Alison Hargreaves was mother of two children under age 6 who died after summiting), as her sympathetic and rather feminist intro set the tone. But I was impressed that Jordan shifted into journalist mode and objectively examined the lives, loves, passions and mistakes of these unmistakably courageous, complex and yet sometimes myopic, women who were compelled to risk their lives… and often lost their lives in pursuit of a dream. Four/fives stars.