Monday, October 11, 2010

TED talk: Medical miracle on Everest - Ken Kamler

Rating: ****

What sounds to be just another climb to the top of Mount Everest turns out to be an extremely disastrous event, one that is said to be the worst in the history of Everest. Once the climbers of this particular group reached the final camp before the climb to the top, they only had 24 hours to decide whether or not to climb it because of a limited oxygen supply, which was required at that height. They had to wait for the wind to die down on the summit as it was blowing way too hard to permit them to climb, and when it did, they set out immediately. The next issue, however, was that once the climbers were quite a ways up the mountain, another storm started up, making it nearly impossible for them to move. It ended up being that those who could make it down on their own would come, and those who couldn't had to be left behind.

As the survivors started coming down the mountain, they were either hypothermic, frost bitten, or in some cases both. As they were treating everyone, a man who was already said to be dead stumbles into the tent, and still very able to talk for someone in his condition. He was so severely frost bitten that his hands were completely white and his face and nose black. This climber had collapsed in the snow, and went into some sort of catatonic state where he was aware of his surroundings, but just couldn't move. So, the other climbers just passed him by thinking he was dead. He lay there for 2 days and one night before anything changed. By the second day, he started thinking about his wife and kids, and the fact that he didn't want to die, which generated enough energy and motivation to get him to stand up and find the camp. This man was able to generate enough energy to get up just by his thoughts, his thoughts of his family, even though he was lying there freezing in the snow for 2 days. Luckily, they were able to get a helicopter to pick up all the survivors at 21 000 feet, the highest rescue from a helicopter.

I think this story is absolutely inspirational. There is no way I would have been able to get myself so motivated after lying in snow for two days, to pick myself up and walk all the way back to camp. Just the thought of this man even surviving the 2 days is amazing, let alone him standing up and walking anywhere. That amount of courage and determination is not something you see in an everyday human being. I truly admire him for what he accomplished for himself that day, and can only wish that the other climbers from that group could have had the same will to live to get them safely back down the mountain.

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