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He gave blood every week for 60 years and saved the lives of 2.4 million babies



Harrison, known as Man With the Golden Arm, has been giving blood almost every week for 60 years. After all these donations, the 81-year-old Australian was "retired" on Friday. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter.

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

Harrison's blood has unique anti-disease antibodies used to develop an anti-D called injection that helps fight rhesus disease.

This condition is a condition in which the blood of a pregnant woman actually attacks the blood cells of her unborn child. In the worst case, babies may experience brain damage or death.

This is the reason:

The disease develops when a pregnant woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD-negative) and the baby in the womb has rhesus-positive blood (RhD-positive), inherited from his father ,

When the mother is sensitized to rhesus-positive blood, usually during a previous pregnancy with a rhesus-positive baby, she may produce antibodies that destroy the baby's "foreign" blood cells. That could be deadly to the baby.

How Harrison Made a Difference

Harrison's remarkable gift began when he had breast surgery at the age of 14, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said.

Blood donations saved his life and 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. Therefore, he switched to blood plasma donations to help as many people as possible.

Doctors not It is quite certain why Harrison has this rare blood type, but they think it may have come from the transfusions he received when he was 14, after his surgery. He is one of no more than 50 people in Australia who are known to have the antibodies, says the blood donor.

"Every bag of blood is precious, but James Blood is particularly extraordinary, and his blood is actually used to attack a life-saving drug for mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn baby. Charge ever made in Australia comes from James' blood. "Falkenmire said. "And more than 17% of Australia's women are at risk, so James saved a lot of lives."

Why his donations were a game changer

Anti-D, produced with Harrison's antibodies, prevents women with rhesus-negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during pregnancy. Australian mothers with negative blood types have received more than three million anti-D claims since 1967.

Even Harrison's own daughter received the anti-D vaccine.

"That caused my second grandson to be born healthy," said Harrison. "And you feel good about saving your life there, and you saved a lot more, and that's great.

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

"In Australia, until about 1967, literally thousands of babies died each year, the doctors did not know why, and it was horrible, women had many miscarriages, and babies were born with brain damage," said Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to CNN 2015. "Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody," said Jemma Falkenmire, who was quite revolutionary at the time.

Why he's a national hero

That would be more than two million lives, according to the Blood Service, and Harrison is considered a national hero Australia: He has won numerous prizes for his generosity, including the Medal

"It gets pretty humble when they say, 'Oh, you did it or you did it or you're a hero,' Harrison said. "I can do that, it's one of my talents, probably my only talent for being a blood donor."

Now that Harrison gave his last blood donation (in Australia, you can not get blood more than 81 years old) Falkenmire and others hope that people with similar antibodies in the blood will be boosted and donated.

"All we can do is hope that there are people generous enough to do it, and selflessly as he did," she said.

CNN's Samantha Bresnahan contributed to this report.


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