Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Man who saved 2.4 million babies by donating blood 'retires'

Man who saved 2.4 million babies by donating blood 'retires'

Despite once being quoted as saying that he had no plans to stop donating blood, Harrison made his 1,173rd - and last - donation on Friday, at a point where he had already exceeded Australia's age limit for blood donors. "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. "The end of a long run", he said as he was making his last blood donation at the Town Hall Donor Centre. The drug is given to pregnant women whose blood is at risk of attacking their child in the womb, CBS News reports.

When he was 14 years old, Harrison underwent major surgery and depended on blood transfusions to save his life.

James Harrison has extraordinary blood. But this man from Australia has saved 2.4 million lives!

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Despite donating for 50 years, James said he's "never once watched the needle go in". Known as the "Man with the Golden Arm", Harrison has rare antibodies in his blood that can be used for injections that save babies' lives. That's a risky condition that develops when a woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and has a baby in her womb with RhD positive blood.

The woman's body responds to the RhD positive blood by producing antibodies (infection-fighting molecules) that recognise the foreign blood cells and destroy them.

Harrison received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1999 for his continuous support of the Blood Service and Anti-D program. "Every batch of the life-saving Anti-D that has been made in Australia has come from James' blood".

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Harrison has a unique blood type, which contains potent antibody which was used to create the Anti-d injection that helps to fight Rhesus D haemolytic Disease (HDN) in unborn babies.

Even Harrison's own daughter was given the Anti-D vaccine.

" We motivate the companions and also close friends of all brand-new moms to think of contributing blood, simply one contribution assists make sure a person has the opportunity to be a mom".

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"It becomes quite humbling when they say, 'oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero, '" Harrison said. "It's one of my talents, probably my only talent, is that I can be a blood donor". The Australian researchers realised that they could combat HDN by using Anti-D injections, so Harrison switched over to make blood plasma donations to help people.

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