Donating blood is one of the best services which you can do to help a person in an emergency situation who is badly in need of blood. For sure, at least once in a lifetime, people must have donated blood to save lives, but one man has dedicated his entire life to the cause from the core of his being.
Hailing from Australia, James Harrison donated his blood not once but nearly every week for 60 years. Yes, you read that right! Now he’s all set to call it quits from this service. So far, the generous man has made 1,100 blood donations, saving the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies, according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
“In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn’t know why, and it was awful. Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage,” Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, told CNN in 2015. “Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time.”
James Harrison is quite often known as “Man With the Golden Arm”. The 81-year-old Harrison’s blood is so special that it has disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop the Anti-D injection, which helps fights rhesus disease.
The illness occurs when a pregnant woman’s blood starts attacking her unborn baby’s blood cells, resulting in brain damage or sometimes even death for the little one.
It starts developing when the mom has rhesus (-ve) blood and the infant has rhesus (+ve) blood, inherited from the father. The different antigens in the mother’s body can harm the baby.
Though doctors are not so sure why Harrison’s blood has the rare antibody that combats the disease, they reckon that it’s likely due to a major chest surgery he had that needed a ‘blood transfusion’ requiring 13 litres (2.9 imp gal; 3.4 US gal) of blood.
He was only 14 at the time and promised to become a ‘blood donor’ realising that blood had saved his life. He started to donate blood since then. Once doctors learnt about his blood was special and one-of-a-kind, he began offering blood plasma donations to assist even more people.
Now he is going to retire as Australia doesn’t allow netizens to give past age 81. James Harrison, who has received a plethora of awards for his generosity, will continue to assist health experts by donating his DNA samples for future research.