“I Had Such an Emotional Reaction to This—to Finding This Little Boy in that Environment. It Was So Out of Place to Find a Little Lost Boy There, and He was So Scared and So Cold. It was Quite Emotional”

On 10 September 2012 some climbers from Toronto, Canada, were climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania when they came across a lost six-year-old boy and rescued him. Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag, one of two emergency department physicians from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said, “We encountered him at an elevation of over 13,000 feet on the fourth day into our climb. He was wandering on the mountain. He was wearing torn pants, a T-shirt and light sweater, and open-toed sandals, if you can believe it. It was surreal.” Dr. Borgundvaag and his emergency-department colleague, Dr. Howard Ovens, examined the boy, who said his name was Emmanuel, and discovered that he was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. Dr. Borgundvaag said, “He had been lost for three days and two nights. He had been sent by his family to cut grass for their cattle, so he had a little knife with him. He got lost and had been wandering since.” The boy did not have supplies or shelter, and the temperature had dropped to minus 10C the night before the expedition found him. Dr. Borgundvaag said, “If that boy had not been found then, he would be dead for sure. He couldn’t survive another night.” Dr. Borgundvaag said about Mount Kilimanjaro, “It looks a bit like the moon. There is no vegetation; it is barren, rocks, stone, all lava rock. It is a dormant volcano.” After seven hours of care, the boy was strong enough to be taken to a police station, and police officers were planning to reunite him with his family. Dr. Borgundvaag said, “I was so pleased that we found him when we did because he certainly would not have lasted the night. I’ve been an emergency physician in an Ontario hospital for 17 or 18 years, but I had such an emotional reaction to this—to finding this little boy in that environment. It was so out of place to find a little lost boy there, and he was so scared and so cold. It was quite emotional.”

For More Information: Adrian Humphreys, “He ‘couldn’t survive another night’: Toronto doctors rescue six-year-old boy lost on Mount Kilimanjaro.” National Post (Canada). 14 September 2012 <http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/14/mt-kilimanjaro-rescue-of-boy-an-emotional-journey-for-toronto-doctors/>.

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