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

Faith Castro
May 14, 2018

The affectionate nickname comes from homage to the Australian senior's astonishing blood donor track record and the game-changing effect that his donations have had on his country.

James Harrison, known as the "Man With the Golden Arm", has donated blood almost every week for 60 years.

Harrison, known as the "Man With the Golden Arm", has donated blood almost every week for 60 years. Now the Australia Red Cross Blood Services have started a three-year research project using his DNA to try to develop a solution. "The end of a long run", he said as he was making his last blood donation at the Town Hall Donor Centre. Australia became the first country in the world to be self-sufficient in the supply of Anti-D.

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

As recalled by the Washington Post, Harrison made a decision to become a blood donor when he was 14-years-old, after he survived a chest operation that required the removal of one of his lungs, keeping him in the hospital for three months.

His generosity as a continuous donor stems from a brush with death at the age of 14, when he had a chest operation, and committed himself to helping others by giving blood on a regular basis.

The discovery of Harrison's antibodies was an absolute game changer, Australian officials said.

Ms Barnes, who miscarried at four and five months before having treatment, said: 'Without him I would never have been able to have a healthy baby'.

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The illness develops when the pregnant women having Rh negative blood type carries baby having Rh positive blood, which the baby inherits from the father.

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.

Her blood can then cross the placenta and attack the baby's blood cells, thus causing the baby to have a shortage of blood.

If sensitisation occurs, the next time the woman is exposed to RhD positive blood her body will produce antibodies immediately.

If a mother is Rh-negative and her unborn baby is Rh-positive, they have Rh incompatibility- and that can be a problem.

Harrison's naturally produced Rh+ antibodies can be used to intercept the baby's Rh+ blood cells from ever coming into contact with the mother's blood.

RhD immunoglobulin (also called anti-D) is an injection that can prevent HDN, according to Stanford Children's Health.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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