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Michele Caminati supporting Climb for Life
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Adam Ondra supporting Climb for Life
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Pietro dal Prà supporting Climb for Life
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Climb for Life, a new website and campaign to raise awareness


The new website Climb for Life [www.climbforlife.it] went online on 1 October 2012. This aims at providing the climbing community with information about bone marrow donation. The initiative and new campaign to raise awareness is entitled: "You don’t have to be big".

Thanks to the support of climbers worldwide, the initiative Climb for Life [www.climbforlife.it] has grown and convinced many people who have become involved to save the lives of others. "We've tried to improve our communication strategy and I think the result has been positive" explains Giovanni Spitale, co-founder of the project along with Pietro dal Prà. "The heart of the portal is the page Get informed" and we've summed up why people should become donors, how to become a donor and what this implies. In the section Donor Registries we've published in a clear and concise manner the links to al Donor associations worldwide, so that those who decide to donate can do so very quickly indeed." To celebrate the new website a contest was organised and up for grabs were a pair of La Sportiva Xplorer approach shoes and two Climb For Life T-shirts autographed by Adam Ondra.

But what's the story behind this initiative? It all began in November 2009 when the young Italian climber Giovanni Spitale fell ill. Seriously ill. The diagnosis was Idiopathic aplastic anaemia,  a degenerative bone marrow illness which can be only be cured with a transplant. Giovanni underwent a long period of hospitalisation and chemotherapy but unfortunately no compatible donor was found. The chances of finding one are one in a hundred thousand.

During the time spent in hospital Spitale got to know many others waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Some were fortunate, while others, many others, were not. While still in hospital Spitale decided to do whatever he could to increase the number of bone marrow donors. "Perhaps I won't find my own person-medicine" he wrote back then "but I'm certain that I'll manage to find someone who will save someone else's life. If so, then it'll have been worth it."

Spitale survived, his condition became stable and he even began to improve. Unfortunately though the transplant remains a necessity: without, he has an estimated life expectancy of 10 years. And the number of those waiting for transplant due to blood diseases (leukemia above all) shows no sign of diminishing. Which meant that his information campaign was all the more necessary. So why not continue?

In April 2010 Giovanni Spitale met Pietro dal Prà, the highly talented Italian rock climber and alpinist. Their friendship resulted in the project Climb for Life: the idea was to create a "brand" linked to a website which contains all the information required for bone marrow donors, published in such a way that all climbers worldwide can immediately understand and be convinced about the importance of this issue. "We thought about those who take to the mountains" explained dal Prà "because first of all we know them well, also because they are highly sensitive to issues such as these."

From 2010 onwards, thanks also to the fundamental support (logistical, bureaucratictic, human and economic) of ADMO - the Italian Association of bone marrow donors - the idea blossomed. Hundreds of climbers, perhaps even thousands, have decided to become bone marrow donors in order to provide hope to all those who, wherever they may be, might need their help. These include climbers such as Adam Ondra, Michele Caminati, James Pearson, Caroline Ciavaldini, Hansjorg Auer and many others. People who, apart from physically giving something of themselves, have decided to actively take part to share this information.

Thanks to the global support of climbers, the number of donors worldwide has grown. Not enough unfortunately, because even today people die due to a lack of compatible donors. That is why this campaign continues.

This article first appeared in the Italian version of Planetmountain on 03/10/2012





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