Saving a life (Air Force)
4 September 2013
Squadron Leader Andrew Greaves owes his life to those who have rolled up their sleeves to donate blood.
Squadron Leader Greaves is based at RAAF Base East Sale where he works as an aviation safety officer.
During his career he has spent time flying transport aircraft, working as a flying instructor and was also part of the Roulettes display team.
In 2007 he was diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. It is one of the blood cancers, along with leukaemia and lymphoma.
“I felt what appeared to be a small hole in the bone at the front of my skull,” Squadron Leader Greaves said.
“Over the following days, it seemed to increase in size and after seeing the SMO [Senior Medical Officer] I was sent for a CT scan. Within days I was undergoing surgery to remove a lump from the bone marrow in my skull.”
After that initial surgery, Squadron Leader Greaves underwent various treatments including chemotherapy and total body irradiation. He also needed blood.
During the course of his treatment, he received numerous platelet and red blood cell infusions, one blood transfusion and an allogeneic stem cell transplant.
“Without the generosity of blood donations I would not have survived the disease to date or the treatment,” he said.
With his first-hand experience of the benefits of blood donations, he has been chosen as Air Force’s ambassador for this year’s Defence Blood Challenge.
As this year’s ambassador, Squadron Leader Greaves aims to continue the excellent work of his predecessor, Sergeant Andrew Kleef.
“I am really proud to have been selected as the ambassador for this year,” he said.
“One in three Australians will require blood or blood products at some stage in their lives, yet only one in 30 donate.
“While it would be great to get the Air Force to out-donate both Army and Navy in this year’s challenge, my main aim will be to raise the importance of blood donations and encourage as many personnel as possible to become regular donors.
“Defence is a large pool of fit, healthy people who are in the prime demographic for giving blood. With initiatives such as the Defence Blood Challenge we can raise our profile with the Australian people and further support the public.”
This year to date, Air Force has made more than 1300 donations potentially saving more than 4000 lives.
RAAF bases in NSW are leading the way with the supply of blood, ensuring Air Force is the force that keeps the hearts of Australians beating.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshall Geoff Brown has encouraged everyone in Air Force to get behind the 2013 Defence Blood Challenge.
“Last year I set you the challenge to beat Army’s tally of 767 donations, and I am proud to say that you well and truly achieved this and made 919 donations – thank you,” Air Marshall Brown said.
Last year RAAF Base Williamtown personnel made the most donations and were presented with the Blood-is-Low Cup.
“I encourage you and your families to support this worthy cause,” Air Marshall Brown said.
1 September to 30 November. All Air Force personnel, families and friends are encouraged to give blood to have their donation counted towards the Air Force total. To register your donation for Air Force visit www.donateblood.com.au/defence