James Harrison, 78, of Australia, can’t stand pain or the sight of blood, but that hasn’t stopped him from donating blood almost every week for the last 60 years.
James’ blood has a unique antibody that makes it a lifesaver for babies affected by Rhesus disease (also known as Rh disease). Rhesus disease occurs during some pregnancies, when a woman who has Rhesus-negative blood produces antibodies that can destroy her baby’s cells. Rhesus disease can cause a number of complications for affected babies, including anemia, organ enlargement, and, in some cases, death.
James’ unique blood has helped physicians develop a vaccine injection called Anti-D which prevents women who have Rhesus-negative blood from developing the destructive antibodies during their pregnancy.
James started donating his blood on a regular basis in 1955, two days after he turned 18. Since then, Harrison has made over 1,075 donations, earning him the record for the most blood donations ever in Australia. After each of his routine donations, plasma from James’ blood is used to help create the Anti-D vaccine. Amazingly, every Anti-D vaccine in Australia can be credited to James’ blood.
James’ enduring commitment to these donations, despite his natural aversions, has saved the lives of countless babies, and improved the quality of life for countless more.