Patrick James Lynch’s documentary Bombardier Blood is the latest documentary to wow us with the barriers that can be overcome in life. The film focuses on Chris Bombardier as he strives to be the first person with hemophilia to climb the Seven Summits—the highest mountain peaks on each continent.
Hemophilia is a genetic disorder that affects one in 10,000 births. Those who have it do not produce one of the factors that allows blood to clot, so even a minor injury can be vary serious. It often results in severe deformities in joints. Children with hemophilia are often not allowed to take part in sports or even jump on the bed. But with treatment, Bombardier was able to have a much fuller life—playing baseball up to the college level and skiing. When he couldn’t play baseball any more, he went through a period of depression, but by going to a camp for children with hemophilia, he came to understand that he was not alone. There is a sense of community among those with the disease. He calls them his “blood brothers”.
After college he began working at a hemophilia center. On a trip to work at a hemophilia center in Kenya he was taken aback by the suffering and deformities he saw in those who couldn’t afford treatment. (Treatment costs about $35,000 a month, so without insurance, few can afford it.) He also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the first of his Seven Summits. It was from that part that he made that task a source of fundraising to help others with the disease.
Most of the film looks at his attempt to climb Mr. Everest, which would be his sixth summit. Before heading to base camp, he visits a local hemophilia center in Nepal to meet some of his blood brothers and have them sign a flag (for the Save One Life group that seeks to sponsor treatments) that he will take with him to the top.
The film includes interviews with his mother, his wife, and his uncle. There are certainly concerns about what he is doing, but there is also a great deal of love and support. Like other films of this genre, it is not so much about the task itself (although we certainly see how difficult the ascent of Everest is). This film wants to see the power of the human spirit to not only go beyond what people say can be done, but to do so in such a way that others are blessed by the endeavor. (Bombardier raised over $100,000 to support treatment for over 75 patients.) It serves as a reminder that why someone does something is often far more important that what it is they have done.
Bombardier Blood is available on VOD.
Photos courtesy of Believe Limited.