12-year-old California boy climbs Mount Everest despite medical condition
As the Ludlow family revisit their Mount Everest memories on New Year's Day, this Folsom family is still in awe of their trip, especially 12-year-old Tommy.
Tommy said the idea started with his older sister, Ashlyn. When his dad said he also wanted to go, it was a no-brainer.
"I'm like 'I really want to do this!'" said Tommy.
Soon, it became a whole family affair. But Tommy had some doubts. Tommy was born with exstrophy, a rare condition that occurs in about 1 of every 50,000 living births, according to the Urology Care Foundation.
Tommy said when climbing Mount Everest, he had to use catheters or as he calls them, "tubes," every three hours.
His father, Tom, said they were given the option to terminate the pregnancy, which is common with that condition, but they did not want to.
"So Tommy was born. At a day old, he had a 10-hour re-constructive surgery," said Tom. "He has had multiple since then to get every functioning properly. We try to do everything we can to encourage him not to let it affect him day to day."
Tommy felt even more encouraged when CompactCath, a company that makes catheters, wanted to be his sponsor.
Heather said in their research, they couldn't find anyone else with bladder exstrophy that has done the climb.
"They offered to provide some of the lightweight supplies for him to take up there," said Heather.
Tom said that the lightweight medical supplies made a huge difference.
An added bonus was the confidence a sponsorship brought Tommy.
"I was really excited. Kind of nervous before that," said Tommy. "That kind of boosted my confidence."
Still, the climb came with its challenges. Tommy got hypothermia during the trip and he couldn't use the medication everyone else did for more oxygen. His sister Eliza also struggled with her Type 1 Diabetes. But the family never gave up.
"Once we made it to base camp, we felt so good," said Heather.
The trip also did a lot for all of the kids’ confidence.
"I learned I should not put limits on myself," said Tommy. "Now [I feel like] I can do anything because I've done that."
Avila, Tommy's youngest sister, was too young for the trip. She said she will for sure be with her family on their next great adventure.