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This 78-Year-Old Man Has Been Saving Over 2 Millions Babies By Donating His Rare Blood For 60 Years

Discussion in 'Hematology' started by Ghada Ali youssef, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

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    This 78-year-old Australian guy has donated his blood for 60 years and has saved more than 2 million babies.


    James Harrison has been donating plasma nearly every week for 60 years.

    His devotion started after receiving 13 liters of blood that saved his life from a chest operation when he had a lung removed –he was only 14 years old that time.

    James said, “My father said I had (received) 13 units (liters) of blood and my life had been saved by unknown people. He was a donor himself, so I said when I’m old enough, ‘I’ll become a blood donor.”
    But James’ blood is extra special, in the 1960s, his blood was discovered to have an antibody and was responsible for the Anti-D injection. Because of this, his life was insured for one million Australian dollars.

    He worked with doctors and used the antibodies in his blood to develop the life-saving injection.
    Also known as the “golden arm”, James Anti-D injection is given to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies: a disease known as Rhesus disease, a form of severe anemia.

    “Rhesus disease is a condition where antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood destroy her baby’s blood cells. It only happens when the mother has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and the baby in her womb has rhesus-positive blood (RhD positive). The mother must have also been previously sensitized to RhD-positive blood. Sensitization happens when a woman with RhD negative blood is exposed to RhD positive blood, usually during a pregnancy with an RhD positive baby. The woman’s body responds to the RhD positive blood by producing antibodies (infection-fighting molecules) that recognize the foreign blood cells and destroy them. If sensitization occurs, the next time the woman is exposed to RhD positive blood her body will produce antibodies immediately. If she is pregnant with an RhD-positive baby, the antibodies can cross the placenta, causing rhesus disease in the unborn baby. The antibodies can continue attacking the baby’s red blood cells for a few months after birth. Rhesus disease does not harm the mother, but it can cause the baby to become anaemic and develop jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).”

    James’ rare blood has saved more than 2 million babies. Even his own daughter, Tracy Barnes, benefitted from his father’s blood when she had a miscarried at four and five months before having treatment.

    She said, “Without him, I would never have been able to have a healthy baby. I don’t know how to thank him enough.”

    Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James’ blood.

    His dedication is truly remarkable, he continues to give blood even after the death of his wife Barbara.

    He said, “I was back in the hospital giving blood a week after Barbara passed away. It was sad but life marches on and we have to continue doing what we do. She’s up there looking down, so I carry on.”

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