On Top of the World
Leo Lefrançois, left, and his wife, Lynn
Puddington, climbed 19,340
feet to the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro.
On January 29, 2009, Leo Lefrançois and his wife, Lynn
Puddington, reached the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania –
itself no small feat, but perhaps even more impressive
considering it wasn’t that long ago Lefrançois was undergoing
emergency heart surgery in the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology
On September 13, 2007, Lefrançois, then 51, collapsed while
walking to his office at the UConn Health Center, where he’s a
professor in the UConn School of Medicine’s Department of
Sara-Jayne Nocera, a transportation aide who happened to be in
the area at the time, was able to resuscitate him, he was
taken to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab to get stents for three
Sixteen months and a total of eight stents later, and after
weeks of intensive training, Lefrançois and Puddington (who is
an associate professor of in the Department of Immunology) were
part of a team embarking on the 19,340-foot climb to Uhuru Peak,
which sits atop an inactive volcano known as Kibo and is Mount
Kilimanjaro’s highest point.
“This was quite a personal accomplishment, especially
considering where I was not even a year-and-a-half earlier,”
Lefrançois says. “Had it not been for the outstanding
performance of Dr. Kanwar Singh and the cardiology team at
UConn, I doubt I would have had the peace of mind, or the heart,
to train effectively and then climb the mountain".
And, by the way, as part of that training, the couple also
climbed the Villarrica volcano in southern Chile, which peaks at
more than 9,300 feet.