Alpha-1 Patient Conquers Mt. Rainier with a Little Help From Her Friends
August 28, 2015
By Jennifer Seiler
Climbing a mountain is challenging enough, but when the hiker has Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency (Alpha-1), it’s a whole other story. This rare genetic condition can result in serious lung disease and patients often suffer from shortness of breath, wheezing, chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Last week Dee Meisner, a police officer from Cocoa, Florida and an Alpha-1 patient, tackled Mt. Rainier, the highest peak in the state of Washington in the U.S. She was joined on the climb by 15 CSL Behring employees. Despite Dee’s condition, which leaves her with only 50% lung capacity, she has made a personal commitment to increase awareness of Alpha-1 by hiking mountains. This was her second attempt on Mount Rainier, after falling just short of her goal last year.
Dee was joined by Tim Grams, an experienced hiker and one of CSL Behring’s Gettin’ In the GameSM Athletes who has hemophilia A. Dee and Tim were joined by 15 CSL Behring employees who were chosen at random to join “Team CSL” on the full-day hike from Paradise Trail Head (just under 5,000 feet elevation) to Camp Muir (approximately 10,000 feet).
The nine-mile round-trip hike took almost 12 hours. Although it’s just over four miles from the trail head to Camp Muir, the path includes steep angles, packed snow and quick-changing weather that makes the hike all the more arduous. Dee’s determination was infectious and the encouragement of her team members motivated her to press on to Camp Muir.
The hike was part of CSL Behring’s Patient Engagement program, which is designed to raise awareness among employees of the patient journey, from diagnosis to the challenges of everyday life with a rare disease, and how all employees contribute to improving the quality of patients’ lives.
In his book Kilimanjaro and Beyond, Barry Finlay writes, “Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” Dee and her friends at CSL Behring did just that!
Editor’s note: Dee’s brother, Steve, who also suffered from Alpha-1, passed away in February. One of CSL Behring’s advocates, Alpha-1 patient Mike Wummer, also passed away this year. This hike was in honor of both men.
Jennifer Seiler is Manager, External Communications at CSL Behring