Even this year continues the by now historic collaboration between Climb For Life and Melloblocco, with the aim of making as many climbers as possible more conscious that through the donation of their bone marrow they can save someone’s life.
It all started in November 2009, when a young Italian climber called Giovanni Spitale became ill, and very seriously ill. The diagnosis was aplastic anemia: a degenerative disease of the bone marrow which can be cured completely through bone marrow transplant.
Giovanni went through a long period in hospital also undergoing gruelling chemotherapy, but alas to date no compatible bone marrow donor has been found to make a transplant possible. The fact is, that the chances of finding a compatible donor are one in a hundred thousand. 1 in 100,000!!
While he was in hospital, Giovanni got to know a lot of people who were also on the waiting list for a bone marrow transplant; the lucky ones are able to have it and make it, many others don’t. He decided, while still in hospital, to do something, as much as possible, to increase the numbers of bone marrow donors through a wide-reaching information campaign. “I may not find my ‘medicine-person’ “, he wrote at the time, “but I’m sure that I’ll be able to find someone who will save the life of someone else. At least we’d be even.”
Giovanni survived his time in hospital, his condition stabilised, and even began to improve. Unfortunately, however, a transplant is still necessary: without it, his life expectancy is reckoned to be 10 years. The number of people on the waiting list for transplant has not decreased either for those with haematological diseases (leukaemia above all). So the conditions are there for the information campaign to keep going. And why shouldn’t it keep going?
This is our story …
In April of 2010, Giovanni Spitale met Pietro dal Prà, a great climber and Alpinist from the Vicenza area. Pietro was ‘typed’ and decided to give Giovanni a hand. What emerged from the friendship and collaboration between the two of them was the Climb for Life project: a ‘signature’ to use on an information platform in which there would be – and now is – all the information regarding bone marrow donation and the convincing reasons for becoming a donor, all clear and accessible for every climber in the world. “We thought of mountaineers”, Pietro says, “because above all, it’s an environment that we know well, but also remembering that these are people who have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, great sensitivity”,
Since 2010 our idea has developed; also thanks to the indispensable logistical, bureaucratic, human and economic help of ADMO – the Italian Association for Bone Marrow Donors (Associazione dei Donatori di Midollo Osseo). Moreover, hundreds of climbers, maybe even thousands, have decided to become donors so as to give hope of life to any person, in any part of the world, who might have need of them. There are, amongst these climbers, names such as Adam Ondra, Michele Caminati, James Pearson, Caroline Ciavaldini, Hansjorg Auer, Gabriele Moroni, Silvio Reffo, Sara Avoscan and many others; people who besides giving of themselves in the physical sense, have decided to become actively involved in spreading information.
It is also thanks to the support of the global climbing community that the number of donors has increased; not sufficiently, however. People are still dying today for lack of a suitable donor. And that is why our campaign must go on; that is why we must try to become as wide-reaching as possible.