Man Donated Enough Blood To Save 2 Million Children

Ebony Scott
May 14, 2018

Australian blood donor James Harrison will certainly today make his last blood contribution, having actually conserved the infants of greater than 2 million Australian ladies.

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.

Anti-D prevents Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN), which can cause anaemia, enlarged liver and spleen, brain damage, heart failure, and death, in newborns. After developing immunity, the mother's antibodies will start attacking the baby's blood the way an immune system attacks foreign invaders.

Harrison began donating blood after he went through a major chest surgery when he was 14-years-old, said the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Because his blood has unique disease-fighting antibodies, it is used to create an injection which combats rhesus disease - a condition where the blood of pregnant women attacks their unborn babies.

Soon after donating, he was found to have Rhesus-negative (Rh-) blood and Rhesus-positive (Rh+) antibodies. As her body starts feeling the baby's blood cells as a "foreign threat", she may then start producing antigens that can be prove to be unsafe for the baby.

Scientists aren't sure why Harrison's body naturally produces the rare antibody but think it is related to the blood transfusions he received as a teenager, reports said.

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'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'.

"Every ampule of Anti-D ever made in Australia has James in it". However, an extraordinary Australian man deserves a lot more than that.

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

Using plasma extracted from Harrison's blood, doctors devised the Anti-D injection, which was first given in 1967 to a pregnant woman at Australia's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

"It becomes quite humbling when they say, 'oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero, '" Harrison said.

One of the countless mothers he has helped over the decades is Joy Barnes, who works at the Red Cross Blood Bank in Sydney.

"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.

Other reports by GizPress

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