James Harrison, dubbed “the man with the golden arm,” started donating blood when he was just 18. He didn’t stop for over sixty years.
On May 11, 2018, at 81 years old, James gave his last blood donation. If it were up to James, he’d continue donating, but he’s already surpassed the age limit of blood donors in Australia. Nurses and doctors celebrated James’s final donation with balloons.
— john shakespeare (@johnshakespeare) May 11, 2018
So how exactly did James become “the man with the golden arm”? The story began when James was just 14 years old. He needed major chest surgery, which required a lot of donor blood to keep him alive. James vowed that when he turned 18 (the minimum age for blood donation in Australia), he would pay it forward with his own blood donations.
James Harrison's blood has unique antibodies that fight rhesus disease. So he donated blood every week for 60 years and saved the lives of 2.4M babies. Superheroes are real. https://t.co/toWBKwdtXb
— Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) May 12, 2018
Over ten years later, doctors realized there was something unique about James’s blood — and they knew they needed his help.
According to CNN, “Harrison’s blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight against rhesus disease. This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman’s blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby’s blood cells. In the worst cases, it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies.”
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) May 11, 2018
More than 17% of Australian women are at risk of developing this condition. Because of James’s donations, more than 2 million babies have been saved.
Thanks to James Harrison, I have brothers. Neverending thanks to a man who selflessly gave so much to so many. https://t.co/RjnjEVENRb
— Penny Fox (@PennyAFox) May 15, 2018
CNN reports, “Doctors aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type, but they think it might be from the transfusions he received when he was 14, after his surgery. He’s one of no more than 50 people in Australia known to have the antibodies, the blood service says.”
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) May 11, 2018
James donated blood over 1,100 times — a record — but he hopes someone will break his record soon. James was able to save millions of babies, but there will be millions more who need help in the future as well.
Although others consider James a hero, he thinks he’s just doing what he can to help other people. Have you ever donated blood?
Watch a video of James below, and don’t forget to share this story with your friends!