An 81-year-old man who donated blood almost every week for 60 years saved the lives of more than 2.4 million babies, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service announced Friday.
James Harrison, 81, retired from donating blood Friday, ending a 60-year chapter as a blood donor in Australia where many called him “the Man with the Golden Arm,” KPTV reported.
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service announced that Harrison made 1,100 donations in total, which went toward saving the lives of more than 2.4 million infants in need of blood transfusions.
Harrison’s blood is just as extraordinary as his blood donation history. His blood has special disease-fighting antibodies which medical professionals have used to develop an injection called AntiD, which combats against rhesus disease.
Rhesus disease is a medical condition where the antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood begin attacking the newborn baby’s blood cells, according to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). If left untreated, the baby can suffer brain damage or die.
The condition develops when the infant’s mother has rhesus negative blood, and the baby inherits rhesus positive blood from the father.
Doctors believe Harrison’s blood contains these special antibodies because of a blood transfusion he received at age 14 when he underwent a major chest surgery.
After his surgery, Harrison promised to become a blood donor to help others.
Harrison can no longer donate blood because Australia does not allow donors over the age of 81, but the 81-year-old has vowed to continue helping the medical field by donating samples of his DNA for research, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.