Give blood every week for 60 years and save the lives of 2.4 million babies


Harrison, known as "the man with the golden arm," has donated blood almost every week for 60 years. After all these donations, the 81-year-old Australian "retired" on Friday. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter.

According to the Australian Red Cross Service, it helped save more than 2.4 million Australian babies.

Harrison's blood has unique antibodies that fight the disease and have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight rhesus disease.

This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually begins to attack the platelets of the unborn baby. In the worst cases, it can cause brain damage or death for babies.

Here why:

The condition develops when a pregnant woman has negative blood (RhD negative) and her baby has a positive rhesus blood (RhD positive) inherited from his father.

If the mother is sensitized to rhesus-positive blood, usually during a pregnancy with a positive positive baby, she can produce antibodies that destroy the baby's "foreign" blood cells. This could be fatal to the baby.

How Harrison made the difference

Harrison's remarkable gift to give him a start when he was chestful when he was only 14 years old, said the Australian Red Cross Service.

Blood donations saved his life, so he promised to become a blood donor.

A few years later, doctors discovered that his blood contained the antibody that could be used to make Anti-D injections, so he returned to creating blood plasma donations to help as many people as possible.

Doctors are not exactly sure why Harrison has this rare type of blood, but they think it can come from the transfusions he received when he was 14 years old after surgery. He is one of more than 50 people in Australia who are known to have antibodies, says the blood service.

"Every blood bag is valuable, but James's blood is excellent." His blood is actually used to make a life-saving medicine given to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies. which has ever been made in Australia comes from James's blood. "Falkenmire said." And over 17% of women in Australia are at risk, so James helped save lives. "

Because his donations were a game of change

Anti-D, produced by Harrison's antibodies, prevents women from negative-flowing negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during pregnancy. More than three million anti-D have been administered to Australian mothers with negative blood types since 1967.

Even Harrison's daughter received the vaccine against D.

"This has resulted in my second grandson being born healthy," said Harrison. "And that makes you feel good that you saved a life there and saved many others and that's great.

The discovery of Harrison's antibodies was an absolute change to the game, according to Australian officials.

"In Australia, by 1967, there were literally thousands of babies who die every year, doctors did not know why they were awful, women had a lot of miscarriages, and babies were born with brain damage," said Jemma Falkenmire, Australia's Red Cross Cross, said to CNN in 2015. "Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time."

Why is he a national hero

That would be over two million lives, according to the blood service, and that is why Harrison is considered a national hero in Australia. He has won many awards for his generosity, including the Australian Metal, one of the country's most prestigious prices.

"He becomes quite humble when they say," Oh you did this or you did it or you're a hero, "Harrison said," It's something I can do. It is one of my talents, perhaps my only talent, that I can be a blood donor. "

Now that Harrison has given the last donation of blood (Australia can not give blood after the age of 81), Falkenmire and others hope that people with similar antibodies in their blood will be strengthened and given.

"All we can do is hope that there will be people generous enough to do it and unselfishly the way it has done," he said.

CNN's Samantha Bresnahan contributed to this report.