When I was interning at NASA, I met Tanaya. She told me that she was going to Mount Everest for a fundraiser. Unsure of what the fundraiser was, I quickly learned that this was a very worthwhile endeavor, the Tanzania Heart Babies Project. The reason why I was interested was two-fold. Not only was I able to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the tallest mountain in the world, I was also able to do that with students who were passionate about helping some of the poorest children in the world receive a new life. I felt like I simultaneously received a new lease a life while directly contributing to the lives of others. What else, I was able to watch on video as these children prepared for their heart surgery in India. As an aspiring doctor, I plan to carry this delicate respect for others with me when I become a surgeon. Perhaps one day I will get to experience first hand what it is like to save a child's life.
I was also able to write an independent research paper that I plan to publish soon (see below).
In May 2014, just days after the deadliest avalanche on Mount Everest, a group of 12 students from across the world began an ascent to Everest Base Camp for the Tanzania Heart Babies Project. Mean diastolic and systolic blood pressure, oxygen saturation, perfusion index and pulse rate were analyzed during the ascent for two groups: 12 students between the ages of 19-22, and 3 sherpas between the ages of 30-44.
One portable pulse oximeter and one blood pressure cuff were carried during the trek. 30 minutes after dinner each evening, expedition members received a small check-up, consisting of a health status chat and an analysis of their physiological progress. Team members were monitored for their blood pressure (mmHg), oxygen saturation (%), perfusion index (arterial pulse signal strength), and pulse rate (bpm). Sherpas were not monitored for their blood pressure. At the end of the trek, team members were assessed for their overall physical well-being, exercise habits before the trek, and body mass index (BMI).
Prior to summiting, the sherpas showed a smaller decrease in their mean oxygen saturation compared to the team members. (Figure 5: Sherpa vs. Team Member Oxygen Saturation). For the majority of the trek, sherpas showed a lower mean pulse rate compared to the team members (Figure 6: Sherpa vs. Team Member Pulse Rate). Perfusion index did not show any recognizable trends (Figure 7: Sherpa vs. Team Member Perfusion Index). The team member’s mean systolic blood pressure slightly decreased and diastolic blood pressure slightly increased prior to summiting. These last results will undergo further analysis.