The Man Who Donated Blood Every Week For 60 Years, Saving the Lives of 2.4 Million Babies

James Harrison is known as the “Man With the Golden Arm” because he donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. The 85-year-old finally retired in 2018, after helping to save the lives of more than 2.4 million babies. Harrison’s blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that help fight against rhesus disease — a condition where a pregnant woman’s blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby’s blood cells. In the worst cases, it can result in brain damage or death for the babies. Harrison’s remarkable gift of giving started when he had major chest surgery when he was just 14. Blood donations saved his life, so he pledged to become a donor. A few years later, doctors discovered Harrison’s blood contained the antibody that could be used to create Anti-D injections, so he switched to making blood plasma donations to help as many people as possible. Doctors aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type, but they think it could be linked to the transfusions he received during surgery when he was a boy. He’s one of 50 people in Australia known to have the antibodies. Harrison has won numerous awards for his generosity, including the Medal of the Order of Australia, one of Australia's most prestigious honors. In Australia, no one past the age of 81 can donate blood, which is why Harrison had to retire from his quest, but now that he’s no longer donating blood, the Australian Red Cross is hoping that others with similar antibodies will step up and donate.