A wish fulfilled

Dreams do come true
Amir being airlifted by helicopter down the mountain
Dream realised ... Amir at Annapurna Base Camp.

THE ROAD to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) proved to be a strenuous one for Astro SuperSport's Wishlist winner Amir Asyraf. He had to persevere through bouts of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and had to cut his hike by three days.

Wishlist is a programme that fulfils the ultimate wish of one Astro SuperSport's fan. Amir's Nepal adventure (sponsored by MyEG), which took place alongside NEX group's Colombia Expedition100, started out well for him and the Wishlist crew, which included the show's hosts Reem Shahwa and Mark O'Dea.

They made it from the first checkpoint in Sinuwa, all the way to Chomrong, and then to Dovan on the second day, hiking a gruelling 11km to 12km a day in freezing temperatures.

At an altitude of 4,130m, any attempt to scale ABC can result in low levels of oxygen in the body, often leading to symptoms of AMS like dizziness, headaches, and vomiting – signs that Amir was soon experiencing on the third day.

That particular trek proved to be more demanding, as the team had to head down below 2,700m, before climbing all the way up to 3,200m to reach their next checkpoint, Deurali.

The 21-year-old third-year Bachelors in International Business student and MyEG hero recalls: "Upon reaching Deurali, I felt a slight headache. I thought it was just a normal headache and took a couple of Panadols and slept for a while before dinner.

"At dinner, I tried eating but I couldn't finish my meal because I felt like vomiting." A few hours after that, Amir was awoken by a rush of vomit spewing out of his mouth. A member from the NEX group assured Amir and the team that he'd experienced a normal symptom.

According to Wishlist crew member Ashvin Vijay, despite Amir's insistence that he was feeling better, the team had to decide based on medical advice whether to continue to ABC with or without him. Ashvin says: "The doctor travelling with us checked on Amir and said he was fine for now, but to check again at the next checkpoint, which was at Machapuchare.

"He [Amir] wanted to make it but we didn't want him to do it because of … the show." Hot honey lemon helped wash down their daily diet of vegetarian fried rice and Dal bhat with bread, which Amir quips that he cannot drink any more honey lemon after this.

It was during this staple meal at the last checkpoint before reaching ABC that Amir felt the familiar ache in the head, besides feeling dizzy and weak at the knees – and this time, vomiting in front of everyone.

Amir recalls: "One of the NEX members had an oximeter, so he checked my oxygen levels. It was low at 60%." The man told Amir that his oxygen levels needed to reach at least 75% if he wanted to make it to ABC. To his relief, it increased to 80% after a 30-minute nap. The doctor eventually gave Amir the clearance to continue the hike, but he had to do so at a much slower pace. When the determined young man finally reached ABC, he was greeted with cheering and clapping. "I cried, thinking of the struggle I had gone through the past few days," says Amir.

What happened next, Amir remembers very little of. Ashvin explains: "At dinner, we all realised there was something wrong with him,

"That was the time when his AMS really kicked in, especially with the thin air and all. He started hallucinating. He started feeling like he wanted to vomit,

"He also has a bad case of hypothermia, so he was shivering and basically suffered that night." The doctor then ordered that Amir be airlifted by helicopter to a hospital while the rest of the Wishlist team took the three-day hike to come down.

Amir was first taken to Pokhara before another helicopter took him to Kathmandu, where he was hospitalised for a day.

Catch all the drama and pain that Amir underwent in fulfilling his long-held wish on Astro SuperSport (channels 810/ 831 HD) or Astro Go in the season two finale of Wishlist this Sunday.

Astro SuperSport is also airing two brand new programmes – Sportify MyEG and Small World.

Sportify MyEG, hosted by Swarna Naidu, Amanda Chaang and Michelle Lee, will showcase quirky sport like Quidditch, frisbee, and floorball on Astro SuperSport (channels 816/ 834 HD) on Jan 2.

SmallWorld, whichwill air on on Astro SuperSport on Jan 3, will feature three children who aspire to be TV hosts and in the sports media industry. They will be mentored by industry experts Aishah Sinclair, Roshan Narayan, and Lez Ann Chong.