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Powered by, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Raising money for a worthy cause

08/21/2009 10:50 PM | By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter

Dubai: Four expatriates plan to climb the highest mountain in Africa next month in aid of a 12-year-old child in Dubai, who is suffering from a rare disorder, and to make people more aware of the disease.

Some of the team members have given up smoking and are undergoing intense training for the six-day climb to reach the top of the nearly 5,900-metre Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Aaron, 12, suffers from aplastic anaemia, a debilitating disease in which the body stops producing new blood cells. It leaves the patient feeling fatigued, bruised easily and bleeding from injuries uncontrollably. There is also a higher risk of infections.

Three out of one million people in the US get aplastic anaemia. Once it was a near-fatal disease, but today there is much better prognosis due to advances in treatment. The treatment is either through medications, blood transfusions or a bone marrow transplant.

A healthy bone marrow constantly makes new blood cells. The red blood cells help carry oxygen to all parts of the body. White blood cells help fight infection and smaller platelets help control bleeding.

The boy's father, Jason Perks, who is part of the team, says on a website: "The combination of reaching the summit and seeing the Sun rise over Africa, coupled with the knowledge that we have raised money for such a worthy cause will make all the hard work, sweat and blisters, completely worth it."

According to the website, Aaron was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia at the age of 8. Over the past 4 years he has had to live with the condition. His health is constantly monitored to ensure that his immune system is at a sufficient level for him to live life like any other child. Aaron is keen on amateur drama and is a member of the local amateur dramatics society. He was been shortlisted for a major part in a BBC Wales film due to be filmed in the summer and is very hopeful of landing the part.

You can follow the progress of the team's training and also donate money or buy T-shirts through the website Fibbers is a watering hole which these four frequent.

Aplastic anaemia is as common as leukaemia, but not many people have heard of it, says Floyd Meenan, a project manager. The foursome plan to raise Dh100,000 (Dh367,000) for the Aplastic Anaemia Trust, a British charity.

"It was Jason and Jamie's idea, and I joined in," says Meenan, who has a fear of heights. "I am a bit nervous climbing the highest mountain in Africa," he says on the website.

The team comprises of Jason Perks, Jamie Watt, Meenan and Greg Scott.

Meenan also has given up smoking to make the grueling climb.

Jamie Watt says: "I am giving up smoking after 21 years to prepare for that altitude which is a massive task for me. Probably the main focus is to do this knowing it will help a great friend's kid, which is pretty cool."


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