2007 William J. Rashkind Memorial Lecture—Antarctica: Magic and Mayhem on Mt. Vinson
A funny thing happened on the way to the summit of Mt. Vinson, the tallest mountain in the Antarctic. I was traveling there with Dale Shippam, a wonderful 54-year-old firefighter who had received a heart transplant 8 years earlier for a presumed viral infection of the heart. The journey had started 2 years previously when, over lunch with Mr. Ian Delaney, the Chairman of Sherritt International, the idea of an expedition to the Antarctic to raise awareness for transplantation was born.
These were the reasons that our team of adventurers went to the Antarctic—a place that has been referred to as “being as close [as one can get] to another planet without ever leaving this one”: Vinson is 16 067 feet high but behaves like a higher mountain because of its proximity to the South Pole, and it has average temperatures of −20 to −40 and 24 hours of sunlight during its summer. Dale underwent a vigorous training schedule involving 6- to 8-hour hikes with a 50-lb pack and multiple medical tests to ensure it was safe for him to make the trip.
The trip was a resounding success. Everyone returned home to Canada safe and healthy, and 1 million dollars was raised for research. But more importantly, Dale represents exactly what is possible after transplantation—anything and everything.