Man whose rare blood type saved millions of babies retires from donating after 60 years

james harrison donating exlarge
James Harrison donates plasma for one of the last times before retiring after 60 years of donating life-saving rare blood type. Image credit: CNN.

James Harrison, known as the “Man With the Golden Arm,” has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. After all those donations, the 81-year-old Australian man “retired” [on May 11, 2018].

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

Harrison’s blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight against rhesus disease.

This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman’s blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby’s blood cells. In the worst cases, it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies.

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type… He’s one of no more than 50 people in Australia known to have the antibodies, the blood service says.

Related article:  Are we closer to finding life on Mars?

“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,” Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, told CNN in 2015. “Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time.”

Read full, original post: He donated blood every week for 60 years and saved the lives of 2.4 million babies.

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