2.2 million babies owe their lives to one man and his very unique blood. Actually, because James Harrison has been donating his special blood for over 56 years, many of those babies have grown up to have children and even become grandparents. So the real number of lives Harrison is responsible for is exponentially higher.
Doctors discovered Harrison has an antibody in his plasma that stops babies dying from Rhesus disease, a form of severe anemia, when the man was only 18. Since then, Harrison has donated his blood almost 1,000 times. His blood even helped save his own grandchild.
“I’ve never thought about stopping. Never,” Harrison said.
At the age of 14, Harrison underwent a major chest surgery, requiring an infusion of 13 liters of blood. The young man vowed to give back when he was legal able. Little did he know his blood would be worth so much.
Scientists have used Harrison’s blood to develop a vaccine called Anti-D. Rhesus disease, which killed thousands of Australian babies each year back when Harrison first began donating, makes a baby’s blood incompatible with the mother’s blood. This can lead to permanent brain damage or death.
Despite his age of 74, Harrison still donates blood regularly.
Cole Gamble writes regularly at FUN WITH COLE.