An Australian man nicknamed the ‘man with the golden arm’ has saved the lives of more than two million babies, including his own grandson, by donating his rare blood over 56 years.
James Harrison’s blood contains a life-saving antibody that stops babies from dying from Rhesus disease, a form of severe anemia. The disease creates an incompatibility between a mum and unborn baby’s blood – thousands of babies are affected by the condition each year, which can cause brain damage in newborns.
Not only has Mr Harrison, 74, donated 984 times over 56 years, he has also enabled experts to develop the Anti-D vaccine by undergoing a series of tests. Countless mums have been able to give birth to healthy babies, including his daughter Tracey, who had a healthy son because of her dad’s miracle blood. As well as saving lives, it has also been used to prevent babies developing the disease in the future.
Mr Harrison started donating blood because his own life was saved by donations – aged 14 he had a chest operation and received 13 litres of blood.
“I was in hospital for three months,” he told the Daily Mail. “The blood I received saved my life so I made a pledge to give blood when I was 18.” He hasn’t stopped since and hopes to reach 1000 donations by the end of the year. ‘The man with the golden arm’s’ life is so precious, it’s been insured for one million Australian dollars.