Arthur Bozikas’ new autobiography – Iron Boy
Over 8,600 needle sticks, 700 blood transfusions, and 2,200 blood packs later and Arthur Bozikas OAM is defying the odds of being born with thalassaemia major in the 1960s. “Hope, survival, and prospering against the odds” is a strong theme in his new autobiography Iron Boy: Surviving Beta Thalassaemia Major.
Arthur is second-generation Greek Australian. His Lafka- born mother and Patra-born father emigrated in 1957 and 1956, respectively, and married around a year into living in Sydney.
By the age of one, Arthur was diagnosed with beta Thalassaemia major and by the age of four he had his spleen removed. By 20 years of age he was “getting ready for his life to be over”. Little did he know a new life-saving drug was about to become available, “I didn’t get Desferrioxamine until I was 21 years old, which was in 1981, 1982,” Bozikas says.
By this point, Arthur had unexpectedly outgrown the treatment ward at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Camperdown, “I was going to the Children’s Hospital because [me and my friends Peter and George] were the first in our generation to live at that particular age and to really have normal lives because we were using Desferrioxamine,” he says. “I started using Desferrioxamine with an infusion pump and I had no commitment about compliance because I started this late. It wasn’t until death was imminent at the age of 30, my commitment about compliance resulted to 100%”.
Arthur was married with two kids by the time he made the courageous move from Sydney Children’s Hospital, Camperdown to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
He says while Desferrioxamine led him to a healthier life, it was a hospital appointment which really changed his outlook on life. “I was horrified because they said to me, ‘Look, the damage is done… We’re going to put you on this drug anyway’,” he says. “I keep on recalling the fact that they said that ‘the damage is done… Why should I bother putting myself in any more pain and discomfort when I’m going to pass away anyway?.. Why continue?”
Twenty years later, this appointment would continue to leave a lasting impact on him until his wife – who he describes as the “light in his darkness” – would put his life into perspective and inspire him to enrol at Western Sydney University (UWS).
Arthur went on to study a number of courses including a Master of Management.
“It wasn’t until that day I went to uni that I put those heavy bags down that I had carried all my life … and just put all that behind me,” he says.
Arthur went from UWS alumni to tutor and spent seven years teaching there and eight years teaching at TAFE. In 2016, he was awarded an Order of Australia for his years and dedication as CEO of disability service organisation, Self Advocacy Sydney. He is also a long standing member of the Thalassaemia & Sickle Cell Society of NSW.
Arthur has been interested in writing Iron Boy for over 20 years. “When I was at uni, I did some creative writing courses so I could write my autobiography back then.” He has since published two fiction works, The Book Glasses and Black Ops: Zulu (Tom Stiles Thrillers Book 1) and we are eagerly awaiting the launch of his autobiography, Iron Boy, set to hit the shelves shortly.
For more information, be sure to visit https://arthurbozikas.com/books/iron-boy/