James Harrison is an Australian man who’s been donating his extremely rare blood every few weeks since he was 18 years old, for a total of 984 donations. His plasma contains a rare antibody which prevents babies from dying of Rhesus disease. It’s been estimated that his blood has saved 2.2 million babies so far. (2.2 million!!!)
He said: ‘I’ve never thought about stopping. Never.’ He made a pledge to be a donor aged 14 after undergoing major chest surgery in which he needed 13 litres of blood.
‘I was in hospital for three months,’ he said. ‘The blood I received saved my life so I made a pledge to give blood when I was 18.’
Just after he started donating he was found to have the rare and life-saving antibody in his blood.
At the timy, thousands of babies in Australia were dying each year of Rhesus disease. Other newborns suffered permanent brain damage because of the condition.
The disease creates an incompatibility between the mother’s blood and her unborn baby’s blood. It stems from one having Rh-positive blood and the other Rh-negative.