Edwards Aviation owner Brad Edwards is using his private jets to save lives through organ retrieval

HIGH FLYER: Edwards Aviation owner Brad Edwards transports organ donations across the country within four hours. Photo: Madeline Link.
HIGH FLYER: Edwards Aviation owner Brad Edwards transports organ donations across the country within four hours. Photo: Madeline Link.

PILOT for the rich and famous, the most interesting part of Brad Edwards job is out of the spotlight.

Waking up at all hours of the night, Mr Edwards rushes to his private jet to pick up organ donations.

“Doing organ retrievals is a nice feeling, hopefully we’re going to produce a heart for someone and extend their lives,” he said.

“There’s only four hours that the heart has to be transplanted so we have to move pretty quickly, that’s why they use private jets.”

Aeroplanes with organ donations are given priority at airports across the country.

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Air Traffic Control will divert planes away to make sure the organ gets where it needs to go as quickly as possible.

Mr Edwards has travelled as far as New Zealand to retrieve a life-saving donation.

Usually, he will pick up the transplant team and take them to get the organ before its taken to the patient who needs it.

“Normally we work with St Vincents Hospital or Westmead [in Sydney],” Mr Edwards said.

Donating Life, a documentary by Sarah Pellegrino

“We pick up the team in Sydney first, fly to Adelaide – they take the heart from the donor and we fly the team back.”

The teams he works with can have days that last up to 24 hours, once they’ve completed two surgeries and travelled from donor to recipient and home again.

Mr Edwards transports livers, lungs, kidneys, “nearly everything these days”, he said.

“It’s quite surprising what they do.”

Demand called Mr Edwards into organ donation transport – but gratitude keeps him there.

“It is a bit stressful, but we’re used to it, people say that flying jets is hard work but it’s not that hard - we only fly for three or four hours and then we rest,” he said.

“I think that’s a good thing, we all do, all the pilots do.

“As well as doing our job, it’s a side benefit we love.”

Beginning to fly gliders at age 11, Mr Edwards quickly progressed to bigger planes.

“I was always interested in aeroplanes when I was a small kid, when you’re that young you don’t get scared – I always wanted to be a pilot,” he said.

He’s taken plenty of famous faces across the country, but the private nature of the business means he can’t name names.

But, he can say he’s flown nearly all of the famous well-known rock stars.

“It’s great fun, I fly a lot of musicians where you love their music all your life and you end up getting to meet them,” Mr Edwards said.

“Flying the private jets is as far as I can really go professionally, I don’t want to fly airlines – that’s just boring stuff.”

This story A change of heart, the career twist that saves lives first appeared on The Armidale Express.

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