UCT students to summit Mount Kilimanjaro for kidney patients

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Bonile Khanyi

When Mount Kilimanjaro opens for the dry season in December, a group of fourteen members of the University of Cape Town’s Surgical Society will be among the climbers hoping to conquer Africa’s highest mountain, which rises approximately 4,900 from its base to 5,895 metres above sea level.

The group is climbing for a good cause – to raise funds to buy a life-saving kidney dialysis machine for the Groote Schuur Hospital, according to Nicholas Loxton, organiser of the epic journey to the summit.

Loxton, a member from the university’s surgical society and an organiser of the climb, told Inside Education some patients had to be turned away from a life-saving treatment because there’s only one renal dialysis machine at the hospital.

Loxton said the surgical society originally decided to raise awareness about the shortage of kidneys that are available for transplant, which is the definitive treatment for in-stage kidney disease.

“But a more temporary solution and a way to see results now is to raise money for a haemodialysis machine for the hospital, and that way we can have one fewer patient every week or so sent home to basically die,” according to Loxton.

The other students who are joining the journey to Mount Kilimanjaro include Sasha Tinelli, Constance Bam, Jeremy Li Wan Po, Kerri Stevenson, Caleb Langton, Liam Devenish, Josh Burgener, Louisa Taylor, Raeesah Gani, Emma Alfeld, Shandri Erasmus, Matt de Water and Naude Jared Tumiel.

Loxton said the group has already secured just over R250 000 for their cause.

“We have been raising funds individually and as a team, approaching corporate and private funders, selling raffle tickets, online crowd sourcing and we plan on hosting a few events later in the year,” said Loxton.

“The whole idea of getting a group of students who independently go and find sponsors, is so that you don’t have to get one huge sponsor, we can kind of add up the small things and in the end, make a huge difference in many people’s lives.”

Loxton also said the group has started training to prepare themselves for the climb.

“We have started doing training hikes up Table Mountain and plan on doing more intensive hikes around the Western Cape to build up fitness before the climb,” said Loxton.

The members are expected to summit Mount Kilimanjaro from 16 to 23 December, described by experienced mountaineers as the best time to climb the mountain.

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