Australian blood donor James Harrison saving 2 millions peoples

Kenny Tucker
May 14, 2018

Harrison, known as the "Man With the Golden Arm", has donated blood almost every week for 60 years. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter.

The Blood Service is also today issuing a call for more male donors to follow in Mr Harrison's footsteps.

Because of a rare antibody that is found in Harrison's blood, his donations have directly contributed to saving over 2.4 million Australian babies. This could lead to a woman's next baby suffering from hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN), as the fetus' red blood cells get rejected due to incompatibility of blood type between mother and child. If left untreated, the baby can suffer brain damage or die. This is a unsafe condition that develops when a woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and is carrying a child in her womb with RhD positive blood.

If the mother has been sensitized to rhesus-positive blood, usually during a previous pregnancy with an rhesus-positive baby, she may produce antibodies that destroy the baby's "foreign" blood cells.

This is a potentially deadly condition that can occur when mothers and their unborn babies have incompatible blood types.

Blood donations saved his life, so he pledged to become a blood donor.

HDN caused the death of thousands of babies in Australia before the researchers discovered Anti-D injection in the 60s.

When he was 14, Harrison underwent a major chest surgery, receiving blood transfusions that saved his life, according to a statement published by Australian Red Cross Blood Service website.

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But after reaching the maximum age for donating blood, he is to retire, the country's Red Cross Blood Service said.

"Every ampule of Anti-D ever made in Australia has James in it". "And more than 17%of women in Australia are at risk so James has helped save a lot of lives".

The Anti-D injections work by preventing the woman's body from developing potentially harmful antibodies during pregnancy that could affect her next pregnancy. In the five decades since then, Harrison kept on donating blood, with the plasma used to create "millions" more Anti-D injections for expecting mothers.

His "golden arm" has even helped his own daughter, Tracey, give birth to a healthy son, thanks to her father's precious blood. So that makes me feel good.

Mr Harrison is one of about 50 people in Australia known to have the antibodies.

Ms Falkenmire said that up until 1967, 'there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why and it was terrible.

Harrison's blood is just as extraordinary as his blood donation history. "I increased the population by so many million, I think".

James told CNN: "It becomes quite humbling when they say, "oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero".

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