While all blood donors are heroes in their own right, there are a few who have gone above and beyond in their life-saving efforts. Meet James Harrison, an Australian man known as the “Man with the Golden Arm.”
For over 60 years, Harrison made a blood plasma donation almost every week, leading to a staggering total of more than 1,000 donations. But what makes his blood truly special is its unique composition. After undergoing major chest surgery at the age of 14, Harrison vowed to become a blood donor. Doctors soon discovered that his blood contained a rare antibody used to make a medication called Anti-D, which helps fight Rhesus disease.
Rhesus disease can occur in pregnancy, where a RhD negative woman carries a RhD positive baby. The mother’s immune system can produce antibodies against the baby’s blood, which can have severe implications. Anti-D, thanks to donors like Harrison, can prevent this condition.
It’s estimated that Harrison’s donations have helped save over 2 million babies from this disease. In 2018, at the age of 81, Harrison made his final donation, marking the end of a truly remarkable blood-donating career.
Harrison’s story is a testament to the extraordinary impact a single donor can have. So, next time you consider rolling up your sleeve to donate, remember that every pint of blood can make a world of difference!