Q&A with Chris Bombardier

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Q: Our audience is primarily Laboratory Professionals, what message you would have for them?

A: I actually started my career working in a hemophilia research lab where I enjoyed learning more of the scientific aspect of the disease. I still miss working in the lab, factor assays were my favorite part. They were like a puzzle and I enjoyed putting the pieces together. My message for lab professionals would be, I know the work can be tedious and repetitive, but always remember the connection to the patient. Your work makes a profound impact on people and their medical conditions.

Q: What inspired you to produce Bombardier Blood?

A: I had already completed 5 of the 7 summits to raise awareness for Save One Life. As I was preparing to climb Everest, I began thinking of its location in Nepal. A hemophilia patient in Nepal has a life expectancy of teens to early 20’s because of the limited access to medical care. I had the same disease, yet I am preparing to climb a mountain. The disparity between our situations is evident. Nepal is a very special place and I really connected with the kind people there. I realized if I made a movie about climbing Mt. Everest, it would create interest and bring more attention to the conditions of those without access to medical care.

Q: How did your vision for this journey begin?

A: The story behind climbing the 7 summits began while I was still working in the lab and started mountaineering. I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya to set up a hemophilia lab with the Indiana Hemophilia Treatment Center. As I prepared for my trip, I began to look at Kilimanjaro and thought climbing that mountain would be a great goal. While I was in Africa, it really opened my eyes to the limited access to medical care some hemophilia patients endure. I saw a teenage boy who had his appendix removed. He was a hemophiliac and the doctors were unable to stop his bleeding. Here I was, with the same disease, getting ready to climb a mountain! This boy lived here and was fighting for his life due to little access to proper treatment. I came to the realization that I want use climbing the 7 summits to raise awareness of the difference access to medical care can make in the life of a hemophiliac.

Q: What were some of the greatest challenges you encountered on your journey to climb the seven summits?

A: There were several challenges! The first was to figure out how to pay for all the climbs, how to find sponsors , especially on the smaller mountains. For the Everest climb, Octapharma chose to sponsor me, which helped tremendously.

There were also the physical and mental challenges of the climbs. The mental challenge of trying to convince yourself you are having a good time, when you are not. I think being a hemophiliac actually helped to overcome the physical and mental challenges. With hemophilia, you become very aware of listening and being aware of what your body is saying.

Q: The film highlights the challenges that people with bleeding disorders face, (ie. limited or no access to medical care). What specifically can we do to help ensure their access to medical care?

A: One of key aspect Save One Life focuses on is helping people, especially from developing countries, get access to medical care. Our child sponsorship program gives financial assistance to families. They are often far from medical care and the cost of traveling to get the treatment prohibits many from accessing the care they need. Our child sponsorship helps families have access to the care they need. For example, it may be the purchase of a bus ticket to the hospital, which in some countries is several hours away. It also helps educate families and gives them access to resources they need. To learn more about child sponsorship through Save One Life: click here.

Q: Who would people contact if they don’t have a screening in their area and are interested in one?

A: Here is a link to contact about a possible screening: BOMBARDIERBLOOD. The film may be available to the public sometime this year.

Q: Tell us about the work of Save One Life and how you became involved?

A: After I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2011, I met, Laurie Kelley , the founder of Save one Life, who also climbed Kilimanjaro. After we were off the mountain, I talked with her and shared my idea of climbing the 7 summits. She loved the idea and invited me to serve on the board at Save One Life. I served on the board and then transitioned into becoming the Executive Director. It was always my dream to work in global health and this gave me the opportunity. I am currently going to school for my Masters in Global Health.