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2012-12-28 at 11:10

The heart's journey

By Jeff Labine,
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Dale Shippam has the heart to travel to the South Pole.

The 60-year-old Thunder Bay firefighter received the vital organ in 1999 via a transplant after doctor’s diagnosed him with heart failure.

Since then he has helped to raise awareness for organ donations and proving that a transplant recipient can do anything if they put their mind to it.

His journey took him around the globe, including scaling the highest mountain in Antarctica in 2006, traveling to Nepal’s Mera Peak and skiing the North Pole in 2010.

He hopes to test his limits once again as he prepares to head to the southernmost point on the globe Sunday.
“Being a donor recipient is sort of a traumatic thing,” he said.

“Many people are a little nervous about what they can do with their new heart or new lungs. We’re not just getting people who survive but also continue their lives and do everything that someone who hasn’t received an organ donation can do. That’ really one of the main goals of these expeditions.”

In order to prepare for the journey, Shippam has started training dragging a heavy tire and wearing a heavy pack.
He along with a three cardiologists will spend eight to 10 days in the harsh climate pulling an 80-pound sledge behind them. He said his experience at the North Pole will help him prepare for the journey.

It’s not the cold that someone has to worry about but getting too hot. He said when you sweat you could get a chill and that could mean big trouble in the far North.

But the weather can play a huge factor as well.

Shippam said there was one time during his trip in 2006 that an artic storm had them stuck in their tents for 60 hours straight.

Although there’s no goal set for the fundraiser, the campaign has raised about $1.4 million for heart disease research and education.

“The reason we do this trip is for awareness about organ donation and getting people on the donor registry in Ontario,” he said.

“I know when I received my transplant in 1999, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t think I would be going back to firefighting and I didn’t think I would be climbing mountains. I thought I’d be living my life and be fairly sedentary. I really didn’t know.”

Anyone interested in following the expedition can do so on the Test Your Limits website.



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