Apex4 Expedition by Arabella Kennard

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Arabella Kennard from Dornoch but now a 2nd Year student at Edinburgh University was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of East Sutherland meeting on Wednesday 7th January.

Arabella had been chosen to participate in an Apex 4 (AltitudePhysiology Expeditions) in Bolivia.  Apex 4 is a Scottish charity created in 2000 by students at the University of Edinburgh the aims of which are to conduct high altitude medical research, educating the public about this altitude sickness and to raise awareness of the importance of high altitude medical research.  Her particular expedition had the aim of exploring the causes of High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE)  both conditions are potentially fatal.  As Arabella had approached the Rotary club for help with funding, which they were delighted to offer, she volunteered to be our first speaker for 2015 at our meeting in the Golspie Inn.

The expedition consisted of 28 student volunteers from Edinburgh University led by four senior medical students.  Research began in Edinburgh in March with Baseline testing which determined the pre-expedition parameters for each volunteer.  They arrived in La Paz, Bolivia on the 31st May, where the group acclimatised for 3 days before ascending to their base at Chacaltaya.  The expedition consisted of 9 days at an altitude of 5200 meters with NO medication to prevent altitude sickness.  Tests which were performed:  Blood samples, heart and lung ultra-sound imaging, effects of exercise, acute mountain sickness symptom questionnaires.  The research conducted during this expedition was built on the findings from the three previous research expeditions by Apex to Chacaltaya, Bolivia.

The audience were captivated by her confident and interesting talk and the wonderful photography she showed - taken from the roof top of the world as she and the team carried out experiments associated with altitude and the many problems associated with working in such refined atmospheres.  She gave graphic accounts of the distress and illness suffered by those taking part as they had no oxygen or special equipment only their will power and what nature had provided.

It is by sponsoring such outstanding and inspirational youngsters that Rotary helps to bring forward the leaders of the future and helps with the needs of the world as it evolves.