Man's blood saves the lives of more than 2 million babies

Why This Man's Blood Helped Save Millions of Babies

Why This Man's Blood Helped Save Millions of Babies

James Harrison, an 81-year-old Australian man, has donated his blood every few weeks for the past 60 years, helping save millions of newborns' lives, reports The New York Times.

However, Mr. Harrison made his 1,173rd - and final - blood donation May 11 after Red Cross medical officials said he should stop donating to protect his own health. "More than 3 million doses of Anti-D containing James" blood have been issued to Aussie mothers with a negative blood type since 1967.

Harrison's donations became even more valuable when about 10 years into his donor life experts discovered that his blood contained a critical antibody and necessary component used in the medication called anti-D.

The lifesaving treatment is created from donated blood plasma and is given as injections to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies.

"The Red Cross and Australia can never thank a man like James enough", said Jemma Falkenmire, a spokeswoman for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

It was then that he pledged that he would pay it forward by becoming a blood donor when he turned 18, the minimum age set in Australia to be eligible to be a donor.

He is one of only 50 people in Australia believed to have these antibodies in their blood.

"I cry just thinking about it", Robyn Barlow, the program coordinator who recruited Mr. Harrison, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

It all started when Harrison needed a blood transfusion as a teenager - and he's been donating ever since.

He has now passed the age-limit in Australia to continue giving blood, although he says he would do so if they would let him.

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