Mount Kilimanjaro, located in Tanzania, is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. The summit, named Uhuru Point, is 19,341 feet above sea level. The mountain is located on the equator yet has glaciers at its peak. You can see a map of Mount Kilimanjaro here.
Although no technical skills are required to climb this mountain, it is estimated that half of the 30,000 climbers who attempt to climb fail, mostly due to altitude sickness. The ascent to the summit is much like going from the equator to Antarctica in a single trip. Climbers encounter five ecological zones along their route. The weather at the base is tropical and remains stable throughout the year. The zones get increasingly colder as the elevation increases until reaching the summit, which is in the arctic zone. In this zone, humans are incapable of inhabiting this environment and the body is in a constant state of deterioration.
On March 10, 2022, history will be made when twenty-two living kidney donors summit Mt Kilimanjaro. The coolest part? They summit on World Kidney Day!
A living kidney donor is somebody who donates one of their two healthy kidneys, to somebody with failing kidneys. The person with the failing kidneys gets a new lease on life after transplant, and the kidney donor goes on to live life just as they did when they had two kidneys. A healthy person can live a full life with one kidney. As a kidney donor myself, I think it’s really important for people to know that when they donate a kidney, they can still be healthy and active people after donating. It does not take away from your overall health or well-being to donate one of your kidneys!
The 22 donors climbing Kili this month represent a subsection of Kidney Donor Athletes. KDA is a community of living kidney donors who have a commitment to moving their bodies for overall health and wellness. They cover the entire spectrum of athletes from the majority who do what they can when they can, to those who are more inspired to do some crazy activities, like climbing Mt Kilimanjaro!
KDA is using this climb to bring awareness to living donation, demonstrate what is possible post-donation, and to launch initiatives which inspire, support and educate people about the experience of living donation. “We envision a world where there are enough living donors to meet the needs of all who require a life-saving kidney transplant.”
To follow their journey, you can visit the KDA Facebook Page and the KDA website. You can also listen to an interview with 4 of the climbers on my podcast, Donor Diaries.
Best of Luck One Bean Climbers!
“When you guys reach the top and have the world watching you up there, what is it that you want them to know?”