This man's blood has saved the lives of two million babies

Donor with rare antibodies gave blood every two weeks for decades to save babies

His blood has helped save the lives of 2.4 million babies.

But just because Harrison has retired from giving blood doesn't mean he's completely out of the game.

Known as "The Man with the Golden Arm", almost every week for the past 60 years he has donated blood plasma from his right arm.

This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby's blood cells. In acute cases, the disease can lead to brain damage or even death for the unborn babies.

Rhesus disease happens when a pregnant woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and the baby in her womb has rhesus-positive blood (RhD positive), inherited from its father.

Scientists suspect this has something to do with the 13 units of blood transfusions he received after undergoing major chest surgery when he was 14 years old.

Harrison has donated blood more than 1,100 times. 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. "Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time".

"His kindness leaves a remarkable legacy", the Australian Red Cross said in a statement.

The antibodies can continue attacking the baby's red blood cells for a few months after birth. "The end of a long run", Harrison says as his blood flows from the crook of his right arm to the plasmapheresis machine at the Town Hall Donor Centre.

But he has already surpassed the donor age limit and the Blood Service made decision to protect his health.

After a few years of donating, doctors were shocked to find that his blood contained an antibody that directly neutralizes rhesus disease: a risky condition in which a pregnant woman's blood attacks her unborn child.

"I'd keep on going if they'd let me". Falkenmire said. "And more than 17% of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives".

The Anti-D injections work by preventing the woman's body from developing potentially harmful antibodies during pregnancy that could affect her next pregnancy.

In total, James' blood has been used to make over three million doses of Anti-D since 1967, CNN reports.

Harrison's blood is valuable because he naturally produces Rh-negative blood, which contains Rh-positive antibodies.

During pregnancy, some of the baby's blood can cross into the mother's bloodstream.

"I don't think anyone will be able to do what he's done, but certainly we do need people to step into his shoes", she adds.

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.

Harrison is considered a national hero, and has won numerous awards.

Despite donating for 50 years, James said he's "never once watched the needle go in".



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