Most people think that to change the world, they need to accomplish an incredible feat which will affect millions of people within just a small window of time. But, that isn’t always the most effective way to make a positive and lasting difference. For instance, look to Australian citizen James Harrison.
For the last 60 years, the 81-year-old has been donating his blood to save lives. According to CNN, the man’s blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies which have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D. This injection helps fight against rhesus disease, which is where a pregnant woman’s blood begins attacking the unborn baby’s blood cells. In a worst case scenario, it might result in brain damage or death for the babies.
James Harrison was first inspired to donate blood after undergoing major open heart surgery when he was 14 years old. Blood donations saved his life, so he promised to become a blood donor. Some years later, doctors discovered that his blood contains the antibody used to make Anti-D injections. That is when he switched over to making blood plasma donations every week.
“Every bag of blood is precious, but James’ blood is particularly extraordinary. 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.” said Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. “And more than 17 percent of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives.”
This good Samaritan, who is often referred to as the “Man with the Golden Arm” recently retired from weekly blood plasma donations. According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, over the past six decades, has helped save over 2.4 million Australian babies with regular donations.
he greatest perk for Harrison is knowing that he helped to ensure his grandson was born in good health. His daughter received the Anti-D vaccine, which likely would not have been possible had he not done weekly donations. “That resulted in my second grandson being born healthy,” he said. “And that makes you feel good yourself that you saved a life there, and you saved many more, and that’s great.
For his generosity, the man has been named a national hero in Australia. He was also awarded numerous awards, including the Medal of the Order of Australia — one of the country’s most prestigious honors. “It becomes quite humbling when they say, ‘oh you’ve done this, or you’ve done that, or you’re a hero,’” Harrison said. “It’s something I can do. It’s one of my talents, probably my only talent is that I can be a blood donor.”
Now that Harrison has stepped down from donating every week, there’s a serious need for people who have similar antibodies to stand up and donate. “All we can do is hope there will be people out there generous enough to do it, and selflessly in the way, he’s done,” said Falkenmire.
This article was originally sourced from here.