Expedition to Everest and back

Andrew Cumpstey, who has just returned from a trip to Mount Everest as part of a study team. Andrew is from Wesham and studied in Blackpool. He is now a doctor in Taunton, Somerset.
Andrew Cumpstey, who has just returned from a trip to Mount Everest as part of a study team. Andrew is from Wesham and studied in Blackpool. He is now a doctor in Taunton, Somerset.

A Fylde coast doctor has just returned from a three month odyssey working in a research team on the world’s highest mountain.

Andrew Cumpstey, 25, from Chapel Close in Wesham, travelled to Mount Everest in Nepal for a medical adventure, working as part of a 55-strong team studying how altitude affects oxygen levels in the blood.

The former Arnold School, Cambridge University and Oxford University student, now a first-year doctor, was presented with the chance to travel to the 29,029ft Himalayan peak through University College London.

The Xtreme Everest 2 team has studied the effects of altitude on oxygen levels and how the body responds to medical treatment for six years – conducting some treatments in the ‘death zone’ near the mountain’s peak, where there is little air.

Andrew said the trip was too good an opportunity to miss: “I’ve just got back from the expedition, we flew into Heathrow at the weekend.

“It’s been an absolutely amazing three months away. Much of my work was at base camp in Everest, at 4,000m.

“In the UK one in five of us will end up in intensive care at some point in our life. Of those, 40 per cent will die. Despite intensive care being one of the most sophisticated areas of hospital care, even now, in the 21st century, there is still limited understanding of why some people survive and some die.

“Hypoxia– lack of oxygen reaching the body’s vital organs– is a common problem for patients in an intensive care unit.

“In order to simulate the critical conditions of intensive care, the team went to Everest, the world’s highest mountain, to conducting testing. It has been a fantastic experience.”

Andrew added that despite his enjoyable trip – which has coincided with the 60th anniversary of Everest being conquered for the first time – it was not without its challenges – having a 45-minute interview for his second year placement, in a tent halfway toward the peak!