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The Man Who Saved Two Million Babies

Anyone who donates blood a thousand times is a definite hero. You could say they helped save a thousand lives. But James Harrison is different. He passed the 1,000 donation mark in 2011 and has donated a hundred or so times since then. But his blood has saved the lives of more than two million people! After receiving blood as a teenager in 1951, Harrison vowed to pay it back when he turned 18. And he did, but then doctors discovered something unusual about Harrison’s blood.

Remember the scary Rh factor problem (also called Rhesus disease)? That’s when an Rh negative mother has an Rh positive baby and develops antibodies against the blood type. If she has subsequent babies, her antibodies can attack the fetus. But Harrison had a rare factor in his blood that was used to develop a treatment for Rhesus disease. That's why you don't hear much about it anymore. Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service says,  

"Every bag of blood is precious, but James' blood is particularly extraordinary," says Falkenmire. "His blood is actually used to make a life-saving medication, given to moms whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies. Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James' blood.

"And more than 17% of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives."

What makes Harrison even more heroic is that he can’t stand the sight of blood! Yet he soldiers on. Harrison is 78 now, and must retire from donation in a couple of years. Read about James Harrison and see a video interview at CNN. -via mental_floss

(Image credit: CNN)


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