Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Man Donated Enough Blood To Save 2 Million Children

Man Donated Enough Blood To Save 2 Million Children

This could lead to a woman's next baby suffering from hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN), as the fetus' red blood cells get rejected due to incompatibility of blood type between mother and child.

James Harrison has extraordinary blood.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service announced that Harrison made 1,100 donations in total, which went toward saving the lives of more than 2.4 million infants in need of blood transfusions.

The condition develops 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.

"It becomes quite humbling when they say, "oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero", said Harrison, who was awarded the Order of Australia, the country's highest honour, in 1999. "The end of a long run", he said as he was making his last blood donation at the Town Hall Donor Centre.

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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.

Harrison had received blood donations himself as a 14-year-old and had a surgery to remove his lung.

"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".

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. So that makes me feel good.

" We motivate the companions and also close friends of all brand-new moms to think of contributing blood, simply one contribution assists make sure a person has the opportunity to be a mom".

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"In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why, and it was bad".

'Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage.

The affectionate nickname comes from homage to the Australian senior's astonishing blood donor track record and the game-changing effect that his donations have had on his country.

One of the countless mothers he has helped over the decades is Joy Barnes, who works at the Red Cross Blood Bank in Sydney. On Friday, the 81-year-old Harrison officially "retired" as a blood donor, having made his final donation after reaching the maximum age allowed under Australian law.

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