James Harrison is what a superhero looks like in real-life! The man has saved more than 2.4 million lives over his lifespan!
It all started in 1951 when Harrison was just 14 years of age. He had undergone a major chest surgery in which doctors were left with no option but to remove one of his lungs.
During the 3 months which he spent in the hospital, Harrison received a large quantity of transfused blood and the only reason he was alive was that massive amount of blood he received from several donors.
It was when he vowed to become a donor himself and save as many lives as possible. But he would’ve never thought that he would be able to save millions of people during his life.
Watch the video below to learn more about Harrison.
Video Credit: Glenn Tv
According to the former Australian laws, a blood donor must be more than 18 years of age so Harrison had to wait for 4 years. But he kept his promise after he turned 18 and regularly kept donating blood to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service for the next 60 years.
Soon after he started donating blood, doctors told Harrison that his blood has the ability to cure a deadly disease. “In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn’t know why, and it was awful,” Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service told CNN. “Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage.”
Now, we know that rhesus disease was the cause of these terrible things. Rhesus disease occurs when a pregnant woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) while her baby has rhesus-positive blood (RhD positive), inherited from the father.
In this deadly disease, a pregnant woman’s blood starts attacking her own unborn baby’s blood cells which leads to severe consequences. The blood of such women produces antibodies for the purpose of destroying the “foreign” blood cells in the baby.
However, Harrison was discovered with a rare antibody in his blood and in the 1960’s doctors used his blood to make an injection known as Anti-D. The Anti-D injection prevents women with rhesus-negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during their pregnancy.
Doctors have no idea why Harrison’s blood has this unique ability. They assume that it might be due to the transfusions he received when he was 14.
“Every bag of blood is precious, but James’ blood is particularly extraordinary <…>. Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James’ blood.” Falkenmire said. “And more than 17% of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives.”
James Harrison, known as “The Man with the Golden Arm,” has made 1,163 blood plasma donations from his right arm and 10 from his left – 1,173 donations in total. Harrison was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1999.
“It becomes quite humbling when they say, ‘oh you’ve done this or you’ve done that or you’re a hero,’” Harrison told CNN.
“It’s something I can do. It’s one of my talents, probably my only talent is that I can be a blood donor.”
“They asked me to be a guinea pig, and I’ve been donating ever since,” the real-life superhero told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I’d keep on going if they’d let me.”
But Harrison has now surpassed the age limit for donating blood and the Blood Service seeks to protect his health. The hero made his final donation on Friday.
People all over the world thanked him for what he did for the humanity.
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