In the UK one in five of us will end up in intensive care at some point in our life. Of those, 40% will die. Despite intensive care being one of the most sophisticated areas of hospital care, even now, in the 21st century, there is still limited understanding of why some people survive and some die. Hypoxia- lack of oxygen reaching the body's vital organs- is a common problem for patients in an intensive care unit.
Xtreme Everest is a dedicated team of intensive care doctors, nurses and scientists. They conduct experiments on themselves and other volunteers at high altitude in order to develop novel therapies to improve the survival rates of their patients. Because it is very difficult to study patients in intensive care units, not least because they are so ill, the team volunteer themselves as subjects
In order to simulate the critical conditions of intensive care, the team went to Everest, the world's highest mountain, in 2007. The oxygen levels on the summit are a third of those at sea level - similar to those experienced by patients in intensive care. The team even performed tests on themselves in the "Death Zone" (at an altitude where there is barely enough oxygen to support life). In addition, 208 volunteer subjects joined the 2007 expedition, trekking to Everest Base Camp so that they could provide invaluable data about how they adapted to the low levels of oxygen found at this altitude.
Additional questions need to be answered, so in 2013 more volunteers will be studied. This time the volunteer groups joining the Xtreme Everest scientists will include identical twins, children, sherpas, and some of the volunteers who took part in the 2007 expedition.
Intensive care represents the knife edge between life and death. Extreme illnesses require cutting edge research to provide solutions. Xtreme Everest is a not for profit organisation, led by doctors and scientists from UCL, University of Southampton and Duke University in the United States, conducting this innovative, cutting edge research. In order to survive, Xtreme Everest needs funds - a minimum of £1.5 million is required to fund the 2013 expedition.