Every two weeks for the last 60 years, James Harrison has donated blood in his native Australia. But he recently rolled up his sleeve for the last time, as the country’s Red Cross Blood Service only allows people to donate blood until they turn 81-years-old.
Over the course of his long blood giving career, it’s estimated that Harrison helped save the lives of over 2 million babies born to Australian women.
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) May 11, 2018
Harrison needed major chest surgery when he was only 14-years-old and relied on the blood of strangers to help get him through the operation. He vowed he would donate his own blood as long as he was able to, and he’s been true to his word for six decades now.
Harrison’s blood contains an antibody that is used to make Anti-D, a medication given to mothers with a negative blood type. The drug prevents medical afflictions in newborn babies that can sometimes lead to death. Prior to the discovery of Anti-D in the 1960s, thousands of babies died from a disease called haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN).
Harrison said, “It’s a sad day for me. The end of a long run. I’d keep on going if they’d let me.” Harrison was widely praised for his selflessness and in 1999 received the Medal of the Order of Australia. Let’s hope many follow this great man’s example.