Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Man who saved 2.4 million babies by donating blood 'retires'

Australian blood donor James Harrison has made his last blood donation having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women Australian blood donor James Harrison has made his last blood donation having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women
Gustavo Carr | 14 May, 2018, 09:52

Australian blood donor James Harrison will today make his last blood donation, having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women. "Women were having miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage". In the five decades since then, Harrison kept on donating blood, with the plasma used to create "millions" more Anti-D injections for expecting mothers.

"We encourage the partners and friends of all new mothers to think about donating blood, just one donation helps ensure someone has the chance to be a mother".

According to Gemma Falkener from blood Service, red cross Australia, in Australia, until 1967, thousands of babies die every year, doctors didn't know why, and it was bad.

James, who has been nicknamed "the man with the golden arm" is thought to be one of around 50 people in Australia who carry the antibodies. That's a unsafe condition that develops when a woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and has a baby in her womb with RhD positive blood.

When he was 14 years old, Harrison underwent major surgery and depended on blood transfusions to save his life. As her body starts feeling the baby's blood cells as a "foreign threat", she may then start producing antigens that can be prove to be unsafe for the baby. Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James' blood. This medication helps remove the RHD blood cells in the fetus before it becomes sensitized.

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If she is pregnant with an RhD-positive baby, the antibodies can cross the placenta, causing rhesus disease in the unborn baby.

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).

Aside from his "man with the golden arm" moniker, James Harrison has received a number of honors through the years for his blood donation efforts.

This disease is now treatable with a medicine called anti-D immunoglobulin.