The man with a ‘golden arm’ donated blood every week for 60 years and saved the lives of 2.4 million babies

James Harrison, an 81-year-old Australian, may seem like any ordinary senior citizen, but he has already achieved, what most people dreamed of – leaving a remarkable mark in this world.

Dubbed as the “Man with the Golden Arm,” James Harrison has donated blood almost every week for the last 60 years of life. Before 2019 begins, the honorable man already ‘retired’ from donating blood, but for the years he spent extending the life of other people, he has already saved a total of 2.4 million of innocent babies.

For the past 60 years, James Harrison’s blood has been used by the Australian Red Cross Blood service as to fight against the deadly Rhesus disease. The Rhesus disease is a health condition that manifests to a pregnant woman’s blood. Because of this disease, the mother’s blood attacks her unborn baby’s blood cells which results to anemia, jaundice, brain damage, and heart failure to the defenseless baby.

Fortunately, James Harrison’s blood is a holy grail for pregnant woman affected with Rhesus disease. As it turned out, James Harrison’s blood has a special antibody that can be used to create Anti-D injections that save the life of babies.

“Every bag of blood is precious, but James’ blood is particularly extraordinary. His blood is actually used to make a life-saving medication, given to moms whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies. Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James’ blood.” Jemma Falkenmire, the spokeswoman of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said in an interview. “And more than 17% of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives.”

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type, but they think it might be from the transfusion he received when he was 14. He’s one of no more than 50 people in Australia known to have a blood with such antibody.

All through out the years that James Harrison spent in donating his special blood, he has saved more than 2 million of babies. In fact, even his very own daughter received an Anti-D vaccine taken from the blood he has donated.

“That resulted in my second grandson being born healthy,” James shared in an interview. “And that makes you feel good yourself that you saved a life there, and you saved many more and that’s great.”

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type, but they think it might be from the transfusions he received when he was 14, after his surgery. He’s one of no more than 50 people in Australia known to have a blood with such antibody.

According to Falkenmire, discovering the special antibody present in James Harrison’s blood made a big difference in how they played their cards against Rhesus disease.

“In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn’t know why, and it was awful. Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage,” The Spokeswoman explained. “Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time.”

Since he was 21-years-old, James Harrison has donated blood for more than 1,100 times and saved more than 2 millions of babies. In fact, even his very own daughter received an Anti-D vaccine taken from the blood he has donated.

“That resulted in my second grandson being born healthy,” James shared in an interview. “And that makes you feel good yourself that you saved a life there, and you saved many more and that’s great.”

Because of his valuable effort to save millions of innocent lives, James Harrison was awarded The Order of Australia, the highest honor given in Australia.

“It becomes quite humbling when they say, ‘oh you’ve done this or you’ve done that or you’re a hero,'” James Harrison happily shared. “It’s something I can do. It’s one of my talents, probably my only talent, is that I can be a blood donor.”

Falkenmire hopes that James Harrison would serve as an inspiration and encouragement for other people to donate their blood and potentially save a life as well.

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,” Falkenmire shared.

Watch the video below to learn more about James Harrison, the man whose golden arm saved the life of 2.4 million babies!

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