Smiths Medical today announced the opening of a new high altitude medical laboratory. Located at 11,154 ft (3,400m) on Mount Everest’s slope, Smiths Medical High Altitude Laboratory’s initial research will include studying nine healthy British kids and how they react to a low oxygen environment.
It is one of four main laboratories for Caudwell Xtreme Everest, the largest human biology study ever performed at high altitude: over 200 volunteers will be studied by around 60 doctors and scientists as they climb progressively higher to Everest base camp at 5,300 metres (17,225 ft). More detailed research will be performed on a group of experienced mountaineer scientists who aim to climb to the summit of Everest at 8,850m (29,035 ft) to take the first measurement of arterial blood oxygen on the mountain’s summit.
Caudwell Xtreme Everest is being conducted by doctors and scientists from University College London (UCL) and it is supported by John Caudwell, the entrepreneur and founder of The Caudwell Charity who is also a volunteer on the trek to Everest base camp.
The doctors and scientists involved in Caudwell Xtreme Everest hope to make links between the human body at its limits during critical illness and the changes that occur to individuals at high altitude.
In common with intensive care patients, high altitude mountaineers have a low level of oxygen in their blood.
The doctors and scientists involved in SMYES hope to improve the chances of survival for very sick children by investigating how healthy children’s bodies cope and adapt at altitude. It also aims to improve the quality of life of those with chronic/long term lung diseases and to develop new methods of detecting and treating children with disturbed sleep patterns.
The laboratory, which opens on April 1 and will operate until the end of May, will be equipped with advanced medical testing equipment including heart and lung function monitors and cardio pulmonary exercise testing equipment.