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Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies 

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Old 06-12-2015, 03:04 AM
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Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

James Harrison: The Australian blood donor who's saved the lives of two million babies
He's known as the 'Man with the Golden Arm', but he's no Bond Villain. James Harrison is a medical marvel.
The 78-year-old Australian has saved the lives of more than two million babies by rolling up his sleeves.

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'They're surprised the vein has lasted this long': James Harrison donates blood weekly despite being averse to needles. Photo: Australian Red Cross Blood Service

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Mr Harrison says he never watches the needle go in when he turns up for his weekly blood plasma donation at Australian Red Cross clinics. "I look at the nurses, the ceiling, the spots on the wall, anything but the needle. It's too macabre, I think; watching yourself get stuck with the needle," Mr Harrison said.

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The septuagenarian from the Central Coast has donated 800mL of blood plasma almost every week for the last 60 years.

"That's 1105 donations. It'll be 1106 on Tuesday," he said.

Almost all of those donations have come from his right arm: the golden limb.

"It could be all in the brain, but I can feel it in the left arm when they inject, so I've only had ten in my left. I don't feel it in my right arm.

"They're surprised the vein has lasted this long," he said.

A regular blood donation from a normal donor has the potential to save 17 lives, according to the Australian Red Cross. But Mr Harrison's blood is extraordinary.

The exceptional antibodies in Mr Harrison's blood plasma have thwarted a deadly disease that killed thousands of Australian babies every year until the 1960s.

Women were having multiple miscarriages, babies were stillborn or born with severe brain damage, fatal anaemia and jaundice.

For decades scientists were baffled, until they discovered that the condition was caused when a pregnant woman's blood attacked the blood cells of her unborn baby.

Rhesus disease occurs when a mother has rhesus-negative blood (RhD-negative) and her fetus inherits the father's RhD-positive blood type. Their blood types were essentially incompatible.

But Mr Harrison's blood held the key to protecting newborns from the disease.

Scientists aren't sure what makes Mr Harrison's blood so special, but they think it all began when his own life was saved by the blood donations for anonymous strangers.

Rewind to 1951 when a 14-year-old Harrison needed 13 units of blood to survive a risky operation to remove two thirds of his left lung.

The young boy promised he'd become a blood donor when he was old enough. And did so four years later.

Then the eureka moment. Scientists discovered Mr Harrison's blood contained the rare combination of RhD-negative blood and anti-D antibodies.

"Very few people have those antibodies and they are very strong in James. His body produces a lot of them and when he donates his body produces more. That's what makes him a very special case," said Australian Red Cross Blood Service spokesperson Jemma Falkenmire.

"It was such a huge medical breakthrough when this was all discovered, and Australia was leading the world," she said.

Mr Harrison didn't hesitate when the Red Cross asked him to take part in their Anti-D program in 1967.

"They asked me to be a guinea pig, and I've been donating ever since," Mr Harrison said.

About 17 per cent of all pregnant women now need an anti-D booster shot to protect their babies against Rhesus disease, and every batch of anti-D made in Australia contains Mr Harrison's blood.

The magnitude of Mr Harrison's contribution hit home when his own daughter needed her father's lifesaving blood to protect her unborn son from her RhD-negative blood.

"The anti-D killed those nasty antibodies … and now my second grandson is hale and hearty and going well," he said.

At 78-years-old, Mr Harrison has just three more years as a blood donor up his sleeve.

He says he'll miss his weekly visits. He never failed to make his blood deposit, even donating at blood banks across the country as he travelled in his caravan from coast to coast on intrepid holidays since1972.

By his 81st birthday he will have donated 1160 times, but he hopes someone will come along and smash his record.

The Australian Red Cross currently has 150 participants who donate their blood plasma to create the anti-D batches. The antibody is naturally occurring in some, and others have received the anti-D to stimulate their production. But none have antibodies as robust as Mr Harrison's.

The program is always on the look out for anti-D donors, and manually tests the blood of every new blood donor in Australia.

Mr Harrison is quick to congratulate every new donor he meets during his weekly visit.

"I always say their first donation is no less important than my 1000th donation. They're saving lives," he said.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/james-harr...11-ghlzsw.html
http://edition.cnn.com/2015/06/09/he...-blood-rhesus/

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Old 06-12-2015, 03:57 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies


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Old 06-12-2015, 06:58 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

an unique case at that time and still is actually. Glad he was willing to donate

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Old 06-12-2015, 08:07 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

The world needs more people like this man.

Execellent post as always, gata! :-)

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Old 06-12-2015, 08:43 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

Conversely I prevent the lives of two million babies daily. Occasionally multiple times a day.

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Old 06-12-2015, 09:20 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

That's awesome!

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Old 06-12-2015, 09:42 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

What a beautiful story...

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Old 06-12-2015, 09:47 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

How do they know he saved 2 million?

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Old 06-12-2015, 09:49 AM
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Re: Australian Blood Donor Has Saved the Lives of Two Million Babies

What a lovely surprise coming across this article - I have had many anti-D shots with all 3 of my pregnancies.. I can't thank Mr Harrison enough!

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