An Australian man has donated his last drop of blood after 60 years uninterrupted visits to the Red Cross Blood Service. 81-year-old James Harrison affectionately known as the ‘man with the golden arm’ is estimated to have helped 2.4 million babies with his fortnightly donations.
Aged 14, Harrison required a substantial amount of blood to survive a surgery but from that moment onwards he decided he would also donate to others. He has visited donation centres all over Australia and said the 1173th donation was “an end of an era” as he reflected on the past six decades.
Medical professionals discovered that Mr. Harrison’s blood contained a rare antibody that was used to create a pioneering medication that the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said has helped save millions of babies from a potentially fatal disease.
The organisation says that around 17 percent of Australian women who become pregnant need Anti-D injections to keep their babies healthy, a special antibody which only around 160 donors are estimated to have in their blood. Mr Harrison became the first donor of what would develop into the Anti-D program.
the retired railway administrator admits that, even after more than a thousand visits, he still feels uneasy about needles and says that he still looks away when the instrument is approaching.
“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’s unlikely we will ever have another blood donor willing to make this commitment.”
Sources: The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald