NOTTINGHAM, England (Oct. 10, 2006)—Luxfer Gas Cylinders is sponsoring the next Xtreme Everest medical research expedition, the aim of which is to place a team on the 8,850-metre summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, in March 2007 to take the first-ever measurement of oxygen levels in human blood at high altitude.
Xtreme Everest is a research project coordinated by the UCL Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme (CASE) Environment Medicine. The 20-person team of doctors, scientists and volunteers are now in Tibet, where they are rehearsing their Mount Everest expedition on the slopes of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. At its 5,650-metre base camp, the team will put various types of medical equipment through its paces under conditions similar to those expected on Mount Everest, located a short distance to the west. Both mountains straddle the border between Tibet and Nepal.
Among the medical equipment used on the expedition will be Luxfer’s revolutionary Superlite™ cylinders, which deliver oxygen in a closed circuit breathing system for up to 20 hours. Most of the key equipment for the expedition, including the Luxfer cylinders, has already been tested in altitude chambers, freezers and in the Alps.
The idea for the £2-million expedition took shape five years ago when the London-based team decided to study body functions in extreme environments with a view toward applying their findings to patients undergoing critical care. Team leader Dr Mike Grocott, who specializes in high-altitude physiology and high-risk surgery, explained: “When we, as critical care doctors, look at our patients, low oxygen levels are a universal phenomenon. What we would like to see is something we may be able to manipulate in the critical care environment so that individuals become more efficient and use less oxygen to do the same amount of work.”
Extreme conditions on Everest will mimic what it is like for patients in intensive care, and studying the human body in this environment will teach the medical team invaluable lessons in the science of survival.