Martina Navratilova abandons climb of Kilimanjaro because of illness
Updated at 11:35 a.m.
Martina Navratilova was forced to abandon her Mount Kilimanjaro climb today after becoming ill with high altitude pulmonary edema.
Navratilova, who was climbing Africa's highest peak to raise awareness for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, was taken to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, then to Nairobi Hospital.
"Basically this is fluid in the lungs related to high altitude. It is potentially dangerous when someone is at high altitude, but once brought down, recovery is quick," Dr. David Silverstein, a consultant in cardiology and internal medicine at Nairobi Hospital, said in a statement released by Laureus. "Martina is doing well and will continue to do well. Treatment is to remove the fluid through diuretics and to make the patient more comfortable with oxygen. She will spend two to three days in hospital. There will be no effects to long term health and patients get back to full fitness in due course. Martina's acute condition is not reflective of her health or fitness. It occurs in some people in conditions of low oxygen."
Navratilova said, in a statement: "I'm disappointed not to be able to complete this amazing journey. It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be. I am so pleased that we got it going and I will be watching and waiting for news from the climb when they reach the summit tomorrow (Sat). I didn't make it, but I think it has been a great success as we have raised funds and awareness for the work that Laureus does."
She and a 26-person team began climbing the 19,340-foot mountain Monday and were enveloped in mists and heavy snows. "The weather is a little better, but the going is getting tougher and tougher," Navratilova blogged Thursday. "It seems to be constantly steep and as we started to approach the highest point yet, 4,500 meters [14,765 feet] above sea level, sheer exhaustion sets in for much of the group, and with heavy legs and chests pounding due to a lack of oxygen, every step becomes an effort."
Although Navratilova lives in Aspen, Colo., she said last week that she had never climbed above 12,000 feet and that she was "petrified" of failing to complete the climb "because then the whole world will know."
"It's just a basic hike except you get to be pretty high and there's not much air up there, but it doesn't require much mountain climbing experience," Navratilova said then.
| December 10, 2010; 8:16 AM ET
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