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October 11, 2012
Give the gift of blood
IT'S been a long, hard and painful
road for one reservist and his wife
as they continue to endure more than
CPOET Tim Kennedy has been
donating blood and plasma since
1973, when he became an apprentice
at HMAS Nirimba.
Although he had reached more
than 125 donations, it was his wife
Gayle's first bout of cancer that really
drove home the significance of the gift
Mrs Kennedy was diagnosed with
bowel cancer in 2005 and required
several units of blood during surgery
to save her life.
In 2009, she was told the cancer
had returned and again needed more
blood for an extensive operation.
Last year they were told the cancer
had spread throughout most of Mrs
Kennedy's abdomen and into one side
of her lungs.
She had a long and difficult pelvic
operation requiring 18 units of whole
blood and 16 units of plasma along
with other blood products.
Mrs Kennedy still needs blood
transfusions regularly due to chemo-
therapy affecting her bone marrow,
and will for many years to come.
"Gayle is a frequent flyer now
when it comes to blood," CPOET
He still donates whole blood at
least every three months and tries
to donate plasma every two weeks,
although it is often difficult, given his
In what was a leap of faith for a
53-year-old from a weapons techni-
cian background, CPOET Kennedy
trained for two-and-a-half years as a
nurse to better support Mrs Kennedy.
"I assist with Gayle's daily care --
wound and stomal care, administer her
medications, coordinate her pathology,
medical appointments and hospital
admissions -- things that any partner
would do in the same situation. But I
do now have a very healthy respect for
what women do around the home, all
the things Gayle used to do for me that
I often took for granted," he said.
"If there's anything that will get her
better it'll be my cooking. She won't be
able to keep herself out of the kitchen!"
Each time Mrs Kennedy, a 60-year-
old nurse and mother, received a diag-
nosis of cancer, the couple decided
to walk across England, fulfilling
one of her dreams -- a milestone they
achieved three times over.
"It's a 300km walk," CPOET
"We did it over 16 days and you
walk during the day and then sleep in
a bed and breakfast at night and go
to a local pub for a meal. We'd pass
through the Lakes District, Yorkshire
Dales and the North York Moors. It
was really very beautiful."
It's tough for these grandparents as
they wait for Mrs Kennedy to recov-
er enough for doctors to stabilise her
right kidney and then remove the left
kidney, which has suffered from all
But CPOET Kennedy, who has
also taught international students DDG
5-inch weapons in the US, led the
Naval Ordnance Technical Authority
in the public service and worked for
a local funeral home in Taree, said
the difficult journey had revealed the
important things in life and helped him
"keep forging on".
They both encourage anyone who
can to sign up for the bone marrow
and organ donor registries as well as
donate blood regularly.
"I'd take teams down for donations
when I was working in the fulltime
Reserves in 2004," CPOET Kennedy
"I'd remind them how much the
person who would receive their blood
would appreciate it, and that one day
it could be them or their loved ones
whose life it saves.
"If you're fit and otherwise able
to donate, just get on with it and give
regularly. It's an opportunity to con-
tribute to the community in a real tan-
"The blood bank is always in need
of blood and as healthy, active peo-
ple, your contribution will be well
GENEROUS DONATION: CPOET Tim Kennedy knows the difference the gift of blood can make.
'' -- CPOET Tim Kennedy
If you're fit and otherwise
able to donate, just get on
with it and give regularly.
Take the time to
THE Defence Organisation Blood Challenge is
well under way with donations flooding in from
around the country.
In the first five weeks of the challenge, which
started on September 1, Navy recorded 145
donations, Army 269, Defence APS 164 and Air
The challenge runs until November 30 and is
open to serving members and their friends and
and register your intent to donate.
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