Here at the AKU Society we are very lucky to have so many talented and dedicated people working in association with us.
Hannah Shepherd, of Liverpool John Moores University, has been the gait analyst for the National Alkaptonuria Centre since 2015. The NAC patients come to the lab at Liverpool John Moores annually – each patient, often through severe pain, is required to make several steps up and down her lab so that Hannah can produce her gait analysis report.
To repay them and to raise money for the AKU Society, Hannah is making some steps of her own – to the base camp of Mount Everest. For most of the past seven weeks, she, along with her friend Steven, has been training intensely. The hardest thing, Hannah tells us, was preparing for the altitudes on Everest. This involved cycling in a special chamber mimicking the conditions at 4000 metres, where thinner air means much less oxygen to breathe.
On Tuesday 14th November, Hannah and Steven set off. The trek, which will take 15 days in total, and encompass 4-6 hours of exhausting climbing each day, will take the pair to a height of 5,545 metres – higher than Mont Blanc or the Eiger.
So far, Hannah has raised over £600, already beating her original target of £500. All donations are, however, very much appreciated. Every pound you donate will go towards the work that the AKU Society does fighting alkaptonuria. In particular, it will support next year’s International Patient Workshop, where we connect and support AKU patients from around the world, outlining the latest research and providing advice about how to live with the condition.
Most importantly, though, we wish Hannah and Steven the best of luck as they start climbing.
Having arrived safely in Kathmandu, Hannah met her group and flew by light aircraft into Lukla Airport – the most dangerous airport in the world.
Tuesday saw her at 3,600 metres in Namche Bazaar, walking over a precarious rope bridge to get there. On Wednesday, officially designated a rest day, she and Steven set off on a four hour trek. The next part of the walk is where things get really difficult. Not only does the climb become steeper, but the thinness of the air makes it hard to breathe. Hopefully, the training in the altitude chamber will come in useful – we wish them luck, once again, as they continue to climb.
On Monday Hannah reached Everest Base Camp, bringing to an end an incredible 12-day journey. Temperatures fell to -14°C in the day and -20°C at night. Hannah reports that frostbite affected her fingers. Two members of the group left Everest by helicopter. Hannah and Steven, however, made it to their destination – 5,364 metres above sea level!
So far, Hannah has raised over £900 (though you can still donate) for the AKU Society to support patients with alkaptonuria. We hope that she and Steven have a safe trip home!