Fundraising team climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Autoimmune Hepatitis research
In July, a team of fundraisers completed an eight-day ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, climbing over 19,000 feet.
The team, led by Lisa and Stephen Nevitt, raised over £8,000 to fund vital autoimmune hepatitis research, after the couple’s daughter, Abby-Jo, was diagnosed with the condition.
What is autoimmune hepatitis?
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a rare case of long-term viral hepatitis in which the body’s immune system attacks and damages the liver.
It is not currently clear what causes the condition, who is most vulnerable, or whether anything can be done to prevent it.
There are thought to be
people living with AIH in the UK
To help treat her AIH, Abby-Jo was cared for by specialists and given a strict medication regime. Thanks to this, her condition has gradually stabilised.
Now married and with her own family, Abby-Jo still faces difficulties as a result of having AIH. Over the past few years, there have been many flare-ups and scares, but she and the family are immensely grateful for the treatment she's received.
Lisa said, “At each step, Abby-Jo has benefited greatly from expert care and a constantly improving body of research that has allowed consultants to best support her.”
“For me, it was more about awareness. When I tell people about climbing Kilimanjaro they immediately want to know why, and I tell them my story.”Lisa
Taking on a challenge
Lisa decided that she wanted to do something to raise awareness about AIH and to fundraise for the Medical Research Foundation.
She made the decision to fund the climb herself, so that all money could go to the Foundation.
On Boxing Day 2021, during Lisa's training period ahead of the big hike, she had a skiing accident which caused her to shatter her pelvis in several places. Luckily, she did not need surgery.
Her first question to the doctor was to ask if she would still be able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in July, to which he replied hopefully yes.
"I was determined to get fit and back on track with training" - Lisa
By the end of March 2022 she was able to restart her training regime fully, which left her just enough time to prepare for the climb.
The big climb
Lisa and Stephen were joined by friends Helen and Benji, and, in July, the team completed the colossal feat of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the world's tallest free-standing mountain. Each year, only two-thirds of those who attempt to reach the summit are successful.
The adventurous group raised over £8,000 to fund crucial AIH research.
Lisa reflected on the role of research in Abby-Jo's treatment:
“This would not be possible without pioneering research supported by funders like the Medical Research Foundation, who have recently invested £1 million to fund vital new research into AIH."
"They continue to fund cutting-edge research which could lead to new breakthroughs in detecting and treating this disease – in turn helping to lengthen and improve the lives of those living with this disease.”