Man Donated Enough Blood To Save 2 Million Children

Australian blood donor James Harrison has made his last blood donation having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women

(Anti-D) given to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking, and killing, their unborn babies.

But if Harrison had his way, he'd still be offering up his golden arm to donate even more.

Harrison, now 81 years old, didn't always know that his blood literally had the power to save lives.

According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, he has helped saved the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies. CBS News explained that this deadly condition usually occurs when women with RhD negative blood become pregnant with babies that have RhD positive blood. Thus resulting in serious illness, brain damage, or death.

"It becomes quite humbling when they say, "oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero", said Harrison, who was awarded the Order of Australia, the country's highest honour, in 1999.

The drug works as an injection that prevents a pregnant woman's body from developing possibly harmful antibodies that could negatively affect her next baby.

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

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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.

Greater than 3 million dosages of Anti-D including James' blood have actually been released to Aussie mommies with an adverse blood group considering that 1967.

"Medications like Anti-D are a life-giving intervention for thousands of Australian mums, but they are only available because men like James give blood". This included Harrison's own grandchildren, as his daughter Tracey required an Anti-D injection in 1992, shortly after her first of two children was born.

James, who has been nicknamed "the man with the golden arm" is thought to be one of around 50 people in Australia who carry the antibodies.

"In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why, and it was terrible. I increased the population by so many million, I think".

Harrison has now passed the Australian Red Cross's donor age limit, but he told the Sydney Herald he'd "keep on going if they'd let me". "It's one of my talents, probably my only talent, is that I can be a blood donor".

"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.

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