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Australian Man Who Donated Blood Every Week For 60 Years Saved Over 2 Million At-Risk Babies

—blogged by @lovelikejhoney

An 81-year-old Australian man, James Harrison, retires as a blood donor after providing more than three million doses of blood to at-risk pregnant women.

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Harrison’s blood has unique antibodies that have been used to create an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight against rhesus disease—a condition where the mother’s blood attacks an unborn baby’s blood cells which sometimes leads to brain damage, or death, for the infant.

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Doctors aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type, but they think it might be from the transfusions he received when he was 14, after he underwent severe chest surgery. Blood donations saved his life, so he pledged to bless others in the way.

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Since then, Harrison has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, he has helped saved the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies.

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“Every bag of blood is precious, but James’ blood is particularly extraordinary. His blood is actually used to make a life-saving medication, given to moms whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies. Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James’ blood,” said Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. “Women were having numerous miscarriages. And more than 17% of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives.”

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Even Harrison’s own daughter was given the Anti-D vaccine. “That resulted in my second grandson being born healthy,” Harrison told CNN. “And that makes you feel good yourself that you saved a life there, and you saved many more and that’s great.”

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Harrison is considered a national hero in Australia. Nicknamed, “The Man With the Golden Arm,” he’s won numerous awards for his generosity, including the Medal of the Order of Australia, one of the country’s most prestigious honors.

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However, now that Harrison has given his last blood donation, Falkenmire and others hope people with similar antibodies in their blood will step up and donate.

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“All we can do is hope there will be people out there generous enough to do it, and selflessly in the way he’s done,” she said.

About MsJennyb

Small town girl from Dirty Jerz.

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