Most of us have ready excuses as to why we couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't do certain activities that we would really love to try. Likewise, Californian Kelly Perkins has a built-in excuse for playing it safe, too; in 1995 Kelly received a heart transplant.
Yet, despite her less-than-perfect circumstances, in the ensuing years, she and her husband Craig have enjoyed climbing some of the world's best-known and most challenging mountain peaks, including California's Mount Whitney, Switzerland's Matterhorn, Mount Fuji in Japan and Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro. Most recently, in July of 2008, this 46-year-old, five-foot two-inch dynamo completed a two-and-a-half-day climb up the 8,842-foot-high Half Dome, a granite monolith in Yosemite Park; this included the very difficult scaling of the sheer, near-vertical 2,000-foot face of the Dome.
Such advanced climbs are risky for all climbers, but doubly so for Kelly. First, when the donor heart was inserted into her chest, the nerves were not attached. That means that when she exercises (i.e., ascends mountains), her heart does not receive a signal from the nervous system to beat faster to keep pace with the increased need for oxygen. The result is extreme fatigue at the beginning stages of an ascent until the adrenalin kicks in to get the heart up to speed with the new activity level. Second, Kelly needs to take a large number of medications to keep her immune system from rejecting the new heart, and these drugs have side effects that can interfere with her activities. Finally, transplant patients benefit from staying relatively close to medical facilities in case something goes amiss, and there aren't too many hospitals atop mountains.
Her doctor thinks that due to an arduous exercise regimen that Kelly employs to stay capable of climbing, some of the nerves have attached themselves to her heart, explaining in part why she is able to handle so well the stressors of scaling mountain tops.
Kelly says that she can live such an active, almost unlimited lifestyle because she is "fully functioning," "feels great" and is "stronger" than she ever been. It appears that Kelly wants us to know that not only do transplants give people their lives back, but they also allow them to thrive. Kelly Perkins is a good example of this in that she is not only thriving, but is as active as when her original heart was still under warranty.
To learn more visit: www.CraigAndKelly.com