Meet James Harrison, he has remarkably been donating blood since the 1950s.
Even though that alone is amazing there is much more to the story than just him donating some blood. He has helped save millions of lives in the process.
When James was only 14-years old he was forced to get a major chest operation to remove one of his lungs.
The surgery did go well and it took a 3 long months in the hospital for the 14-year-old James to recover. His father then pulled him aside to talk to him about something very serious that was discovered during his operation.
‘He told me I’d received 13 units of blood, and my life was saved by someone unknown,’ says Harrison, speaking to RNDrive.
‘Probably as a throwaway line at that age, I said I’d be a donor as soon as I was able.’
As soon as he turned the age of 18 he held true to his word and began donating his blood to the local blood drive. This all started in the 1960s.
‘There were a lot of babies dying or being born with anaemia, or women were having miscarriages,’ says Jemma Falkenmire from the Red Cross Blood Service.
‘In 1967 there was a flurry of research across the world, and Australia was a leader at that time.’
It ended up being that Harrison was one of very few people in the world that carried the antibody in his blood. They used his antibody to make AntiD, a life-saving vaccine.
He became a volunteer for the Australian Rhesus disease research in the late 1960s, and with the help of his plasma, many lives were saved.
Even though Harrison says that there is nothing special about him others at the Red Cross disagree.
‘It’s red, there’s nothing different to ordinary blood and it comes out the same way,’ says Harrison.
The Red Cross Blood Service says,
‘James is very special to us,’ says Falkenmire.
‘We have about 500,000 blood donors across Australia, but we only have about 50 donors who have that antibody in their blood, so James is very rare to us.
‘Every single batch of AntiD in Australia has had a little bit of James in it. There are a lot of women out there who have James flowing throughout their veins.’
This will all end soon though since Harrison is nearing the age of 80 which is the cut-off age for donating to the Red Cross.
‘There’s nobody who has really made the difference that he has made,’ says Falkenmire.
‘He’s rare for his blood, but he’s also rare for his commitment to saving lives.’
Harrison actually saved his own grandson with his plasma that he donated during his daughter’s pregnancy.
What an amazing life to live knowing that you were responsible for saving so many lives!