After a treacherous 45-day climb, Chris Bombardier reached the 29,032-foot summit of Mount Everest in May 2017. It was numbingly cold, but Bombardier felt nothing but pride in what he had accomplished for the hemophilia community: He became the first person with the bleeding disorder to climb the world’s tallest mountain, knowing full well that an accident on the ascent could lead to a dire situation.
Throughout the climb, he carried with him a flag signed by all the people diagnosed with hemophilia he had met through his volunteer work in Nepal.
“It’s something that just meant the world to me because I didn’t feel like I was alone up there,” he says. “I felt like I had this whole community [with] me.” The 2020 documentary Bombardier Blood chronicled his journey.
Bombardier ’20 MS is the executive director of Save One Life, a U.S.-based nonprofit that provides financial support to patients in developing countries who are living with hemophilia, a disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly. He began working for the group after a 2011 service trip to Kenya, where he realized that access to health care was critically lacking in poorer countries. An avid mountain climber, Bombardier decided to use his passion to raise awareness and funds for Save One Life, dedicating his climbs to the cause.
“I’ve had access to great care my entire life and have been able to train to climb the tallest mountain in the world, but people in Nepal with the same condition that I have are struggling just to live,” he says.
In a seven-year span, Bombardier climbed all the Seven Summits — the highest peak on each continent — and raised more than $100,000. He earned a master’s in global health from Northwestern in 2020 and is continuing his advocacy work for those who suffer from bleeding disorders.
“I have one huge dream,” he says, “which is to reduce the disparity in care to a point where someone in Nepal living with hemophilia can climb Everest.”